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Elkhart General leads large-scale emergency drill for hospital, first responders

Beacon Health is dedicated to giving individuals the care they need, when they need it.

To ensure we can fulfill that promise in the event of a mass-casualty emergency situation in our community, preparation, training and coordination with other local agencies is key.

Months of planning and preparation went into a mass casualty emergency exercise recently held at the Elkhart Municipal Airport and Elkhart General Hospital.

More than a dozen community partners took part in a drill designed to be as realistic as possible.

The training scenario was a 35-car pileup on the Indiana Toll Road staged at the Elkhart Municipal Airport. The exercise included 35 community volunteers who were assigned different injuries to simulate an actual large-scale incident.

Ambulances and firetrucks lined one of the airport roadways, as local media outlets witnessed the flurry of activity.

Firefighters even had to use the Jaws of Life before they could move some “victims” from the scene.

The volunteer victims were assessed at the crash site and then transported by ambulances to the Elkhart General Emergency Department.

The ER team triaged victims as they arrived, assessing their medical status and moving them through the emergency care, testing and surgical processes.

They used real-time information like numbers of operating rooms and hospital beds that were currently in use during the time of the drill, as the event played out.

Mark Philson, Beacon’s emergency preparedness coordinator, helped plan, strategize and coordinate the full-scale exercise.

Drills like this, he said, provide first responders, doctors, nurses, and other hospital teams the chance to test and practice their skills.

“Timing is everything. The faster we can get patients from the scene to the hospital to provide those services for them, the better off those patients will be,” Philson said.

“So, if we can build those connections ahead of time and make sure we can decrease that time from unseen, transport, and to the hospital, the overall better outcome we will have.”

Special thanks to all of the individuals and agencies who made this drill possible and invested their time, cooperation and collaboration in supporting the health and safety of our community:

Beacon Health Transport
Elkhart County Emergency Management Agency
Elkhart City Fire Department
Elkhart Municipal Airport
Event volunteers
Indiana State Police
Memorial MedFlight
Physicians and associates of Elkhart General Hospital
Sgt. Ted Bohner of ISP
Tri-County Ambulance Service
Indiana Toll Road Emergency Management
Indiana Department of Health Division of Emergency Preparedness
Elkhart County Health Department

Local media outlets published the following stories from the drill (click on the media outlet to access its story):

Elkhart Truth (subscription required)


When a medical emergency strikes, Beacon is prepared to give you the help you need.

Memorial Leighton Trauma Center is the region’s only verified Level II Trauma Center. It also works with MedFlight, the only medical flight service in Michiana.

Elkhart General Hospital is a Level III Trauma Center designation by the American College of Surgeons.

Learn more about our Beacon trauma teams and their capabilities.