SAN ANTONIO — Hospitals in and around Bexar County are being put through an annual exercise, testing their abilities to hand and care for patients during a mock medical emergency drill.

  • Hosted mass casualty exercise
  • Ran a flu pandemic drill
  • More than 600 students volunteered

The San Antonio Mass Casualty Exercise and Evaluation is being hosted by the Southwest Texas Regional Advisory Council or STRAC, which covers 22 south Texas counties.

"We want to make sure during a scenario, that might increase patients to hospitals, that those hospitals are prepared," said Angela Lopez a Health Care Coalition Preparedness Manager.

Each year the exercise covers different mass casualty events. This year, Lopez says Metro Health approached STRAC about running a pandemic novel flu virus drill.

"H1N1 [Swine Flu] was 9 to 10 years ago so it was time to sort of take those plans and dust them off," Lopez said.

On Wednesday, more than 600 student volunteers transformed into trauma patients by using make up and being assigned symptoms of flu at the Freeman Coliseum. They were then bussed to numerous hospitals in and out of Bexar County. 

"It absolutely gets us ready for the big disaster, if there was one to occur," said Kristen Lemus a Chief Nurse Executive for the Baptist Health System.

Lemus was at Baptist Medical Center in downtown San Antonio. That's where several members of the ER staff were taking in patients as part of the training.

"It gives us an opportunity to know where our weaknesses are and where our strengths are," she said.

The results from the exercise are used to improve plans, identify equipment shortcomings and point to training needs, according to STRAC.