COTS conducts RHEP Coalition Surge Test (evacuation exercise)

  Sherri Kovach (left) and Jodi Keller (right) facilitate RHEP Coalition Surge exercise

Sherri Kovach (left) and Jodi Keller (right) facilitate RHEP Coalition Surge exercise

On Tuesday, November 20, the Central Ohio Trauma System (COTS) facilitated a region-wide exercise aimed at preparing Central Ohio hospitals for an evacuation scenario.

“The Coalition Surge Test is a federally required exercise to test the evacuation of 20% of the staffed hospital beds in the coalition,” Jodi Keller, Associate Director of Healthcare System Emergency Preparedness, said.

This timed exercise is facilitated by the Healthcare Incident Liaison, in partnership with the Regional Healthcare Preparedness (RHEP) Coalition. From their regional Command Center, Jodi and her team evaluate hospitals’ effectiveness in completing the following tasks:

a) Notification of coalition partner

b) Establishment of a list of available beds within the region’s medical facilities

c)  Ability to contact receiving facilities (hospital or long-term care) effectively

d)  Ability to contact EMS and provide transportation for patients being transferred

Evaluators from Columbus Public Health and Franklin County Public Health were sent to the evacuating hospitals, where they evaluated the COTS HIL response.

Patients are not actually moved during this exercise. However, the exercise helps to prepare hospitals for various logistical challenges by simulating the evacuation process. COTS is then able to evaluate these hospitals’ responses, making note of any problem-areas or common concerns.

  COTS staff members monitor the progress of Central Ohio hospitals during the RHEP Coalition Surge exercise

COTS staff members monitor the progress of Central Ohio hospitals during the RHEP Coalition Surge exercise

Participating evacuation hospitals for this exercise included Mount Carmel East, Knox Community Hospital, and Licking Memorial Hospital.

“Without the COTS Healthcare Incident Liaison (HIL) to coordinate the communication and obtaining bed availability, the evacuating hospital would need to call each individual hospital and local long-term care facility multiple times to find out how many open beds they had and to coordinate the transfer of each patient,” Keller explained.


COTS coordinates disaster response for the RHEP Coalition and acts as the liaison to the Ohio Department of Health. The RHEP Coalition is a group comprised of hospitals, public health entities, emergency management, EMS, long-term care facilities, dialysis centers, and other health care agencies throughout the region. The RHEP collaborates on a number of emergency preparedness initiatives, and acts as a liaison to the Ohio Department of Health.

  Monitors inside of the COTS command center

Monitors inside of the COTS command center

An After-Action Report/Improvement Plan will be written and submitted as part of the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) grant to the Ohio Department of Health. This plan will be reviewed on December 12, 2018.

For more information about the RHEP Coalition, click here.