Pawnee or Atlanta?

Hey there! My name is Alex and I am a first year Health Policy and Management student. I am currently very interested in pursuing a career in health systems, quality of care or infectious diseases. SORT really interested me because of the focus in outbreaks, emergency response and infectious diseases. HPM doesn’t have too much disease related lectures so I wanted to look at electives and organizations that would help me to expand my interests in that area.


SORT participates in many activities from trainings, responding to outbreaks and helping the community in emergency preparedness drills. One of our most recent events was participating in a emergency preparedness drill at Emory Hospital. SORT members were going to be victims of a tornado that passed through Atlanta and eventually hit the hospital.


I was excited to participate in one of these drills because I have always pictured it to be exactly like the Parks and Recreation episode where Leslie Knope must organization a response to an avian flu outbreak in Pawnee.


Of course with expectations like these, reality did not quite align to the comedy filled emergency response of the television show. However, I did manage to have fun and learn a bit about emergency response. I found it very informative to watch as the hospital organized the emergency operations center (EOC), which is where central command and the decisions are made concerning the disaster.


This was one of the first practice responses for the night shift workers at the hospital, so the disaster preparedness staff wasn’t sure how it was going to go. This meant that not a large portion of the ER or the hospital was involved. Along with Annum, I got to be a victim inside the hospital for a ‘code met.’ This meant an announcement would be made through out the hospital and a team would come find us. We also got to wear XXXL white zip up suits, which really made it fun!! Unfortunately all four responders came thinking it was a real ‘code met’ and not part of the emergency drill but this did mean we got to see the timely response for a real problem in the hospital so I felt very comfortable with them handling future situations.


Overall the event went well and it was interesting to hear the EOC go over the entire drill after it was over. A lot of planning and organization went into this response and a lot of discussion afterwards about what could be done differently. It is very difficult to plan for the unknown events related to natural disasters and I believe after observing this drill I have a better understanding of how emergency responses are structured.


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