As the region’s only Level One Trauma Center, ORMC has a heightened responsibility to care for our community in a time of crisis. Drills are essential in helping us identify potential areas of weakness and risk. Our team deliberately designs complex, real-life scenarios that will push even our most experienced team members to their limits. 


In March of 2016, the annual Mass Casualty Intake Drill took place. For the first time, the drill simulated a mass-shooting scenario — a worst-case scenario that would ultimately play out as a tragic reality just three months later.


As incident commander, you have significant responsibilities related to the drills. You must prepare your team. No matter how inconvenient and disruptive the drills can be, they are critical to being ready to respond in a crisis situation. 


For drills to be successful, they must be:

  • Frequent. Said simply, practice, practice and practice AGAIN.
  • Taken seriously — no matter what. No excuses.
  • Spontaneous, as much as possible. There will never be a “good time” to drill. The spontaneity of it is, in fact, part of the drill.
  • Authentic. Maintaining the integrity of the drill as a real-life event — from start to finish — is crucial.
  • Routine. Develop a plan, practice the plan, stick to the plan.
  • Led by a decision maker. The incident commander is the authority throughout. Decisions — even in a drill — must be calculated, calm and non-emotional. The ability to maintain an overview creates trust among the team in a real-life scenario.
  • Evaluated. Acknowledge the learnings. Hold teams accountable for ongoing process improvements to ensure systematic success.


Undoubtedly, lessons learned from the mass casualty drill in March contributed to the positive clinical outcomes and overall organizational preparedness on June 12th. There is no drill that could have prepared us for the emotions we would experience. But when faced with the unthinkable, our team knew what they had to do. We drew confidence from our training. And when the community needed us most, we were as ready as we could have been.