What would happen if an environmental disaster nearby resulted in a wave of patients coming to the emergency center at once? What if an industrial accident caused widespread contamination? How would patient care be impacted if a blizzard made it difficult for doctors and nurses to get to work?
These are the kinds of questions tackled by the Hospital Emergency Response Team, or HERT. The group works to prepare the healthcare system for extreme emergencies and unforeseen circumstances.
“If a hospital was to lose functionality, the community would be crippled,” said system safety officer and HERT leader Jeff Straub.
HERT members have provided support in a variety of situations, including in 2011 when a children’s train ride derailed in Cleveland Park, injuring 28 children and killing one six-year-old boy.
During snowstorms, HERT has organized shelter for hospital associates.
The team was also activated to support other communities in times of need – such as the 2015 flood in Columbia. In fact, HERT was created in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, when six Spartanburg Regional staff members traveled to Columbia to help patients transported there from New Orleans. Most recently, HERT helped receive patients in Columbia who were evacuated from Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria in 2017
The group has grown to include doctors, nurses and emergency medical technicians – but also staff from areas such as transportation, food service, and personnel administration. It takes a diverse collection of skills to make sure the healthcare system is ready for any potential challenge, Straub said.
Spartanburg Regional Foundation’s HERT Fund supports training efforts for the group, which has become a national model for other healthcare organizations.
“The Foundation’s support helps our team to be a force multiplier for our healthcare system,” Straub said.
Donate to Spartanburg Regional Foundation’s HERT fund.