HOUSTON (February 29, 2016)

Southwest Black Hawk Helicopter exerciseHurricane season begins June 1 and Memorial Hermann Southwest Hospital intends to be ready if called upon during a major disaster. Recently a Texas Army National Guard UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter landed on the helipad at Memorial Hermann Southwest Hospital as part of a hurricane preparedness exercise.

In the event of a major disaster, where access to the Level I trauma centers in the Texas Medical Center are at capacity or inaccessible, Memorial Hermann Southwest is prepared to serve as a go-to trauma center for the greater Houston area. The hurricane preparedness exercise was intended to familiarize Army National Guard pilots with the helipad and layout of Memorial Hermann Southwest, should they need to land at the hospital for potential patient transports.

“As a Level III trauma center, our dedicated staff and affiliated physicians are prepared to care for critical and urgent medical emergencies,” says Laura Price, director, emergency and trauma services at Memorial Hermann Southwest. “Should we be faced with a major disaster in our area, including the potential devastation a hurricane can cause, we are prepared to care for the community we have now been serving for nearly 40 years. We feel strongly that it is not only or responsibility to do so, but also our great privilege to care for our residents when they need it the most.”

The exercise gave Memorial Hermann Southwest emergency department staff and affiliated physicians the opportunity to simulate what it might be like transferring patients into the hospital from the larger helicopter. The UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter is 65 feet long and the main rotor has a 54 foot diameter. The helicopters currently in use by Memorial Hermann LifeFlight® are about 42 feet in length and the main rotor has a diameter of 36 feet.

“Doing an exercise like this is huge for us because we can familiarize ourselves with a location and a staff before we’re in a crisis situation,” says Lieutenant Colonel Troy Meuth, Texas Army National Guard. “We’re thinking about 100 things during a disaster and being able to go through this exercise helps us take one of those things off the list.”