On the eve of hurricane season, an effort spearheaded by the Department of Health (DHH) to test a multiple-hospital evacuation plan is underway in New Iberia.  LDH is working with local, state and federal partners to test an emergency aviation transport plan to move hospital patients during a crisis event.

The plan, which involves evacuating hospital patients by military and/or federally contracted aircraft, is a back-up for hospitals if their own emergency plans fail preceding a disaster.  The drill is an effort to improve communications with hospitals, improve patient tracking, and create a seamless chain of custody as patients are transferred to safer locations. 

The performance-based drill also includes testing logistical requirements, such as loading patients/stretchers in and out of the airplane from ambulances.  Communications and proper documentation will also be tested to ensure the safe and organized evacuation of patients as well as their return.

The drill began on Thursday with officials working to determine which hospitals had patients requiring emergency transport.  It continues Friday with the testing of evacuation operations. 

The media are invited to attend this event.  The military aircraft will be landing at New Iberia Regional Airport, 1404 Hangar Dr., on Friday, May 30 at approximately 10:30 a.m.  The plane is expected to stay for roughly two hours.

This kind of aviation evacuation will be applicable throughout south Louisiana and has already been tested at Lakefront Airport in New Orleans, Chennault Airpark in Lake Charles, and the Houma-Terrebonne Airport in Houma. 

The C-130, provided by the Louisiana National Guard, was originally designed as a troop, medical evacuation and cargo transport aircraft.  It can hold between 30 – 50 patients, depending on weight and accompanying caregivers.  Stretchers can be placed on the cargo floor and secured to the floor to avoid patient injury in the event of turbulence.  They can also be stacked vertically along the length of the plane and secured with straps.

An evacuation is a massive coordinated effort among the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals, Louisiana National Guard (LANG), Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (GOHSEP), Louisiana Hospital Association (LHA), Department of Defense including elements from U.S. Transportation Command (TRANSCOM), US Northern Command (NORTHCOM), U.S. Army North (ARNORTH) and the 433rd Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron (AES), U.S. Department of Health and Human and Services, FEMA, U.S. Department of Veterans’ Affairs, EMS, local hospitals, regional airport managers and air traffic control.