Staff participate in elite FEMA training

April 5, 2012

Eleven staff members from Minnesota Valley Health Center (MVHC) in Le Sueur, Minn. recently returned from a 5-day elite training program sponsored by the Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA).

Healthcare Leadership for Mass Casualty Incidents took place at FEMA’s Center for Domestic Preparedness (CDP) in Anniston, Alabama. In addition to staff from MVHC, local and county emergency responders and public health personnel also took part in the mass casualty training.

“It was great to work with our community partners,” says Pam Williams, RN, MVHC Director of Patient Care, “We learned the benefits of working together under a unified command structure. I was very proud of the Le Sueur area representation at the training. We made an impact, and the training made an impact on us.” 

Williams also serves on the Advisory Committee for Public Health Preparedness/Emergency Management and is a member of the Le Sueur Volunteer Ambulance Association. Bruce Kelly, Le Sueur Chief of Police, was also a member of the Anniston team.

“It was very educational to use the National Incident Management System and Incident Command System in constantly changing disaster exercises,” says Kelly. “We were put through very realistic training designed to push responders to their limits and force them to find ways to manage the situation.  It was an extremely valuable program.”

The 32-hour course included classroom instruction and realistic scenario-based exercises, complete with victims and patients, the expected chaos, noise, power failures and media briefs that would result from a mass casualty event. State-of-the-art technology allowed for sound and visual effect capabilities and life-like ‘patients’ controlled by trainers in hidden observation rooms.

“The training showed the Incident Command System really does work, says Mary Wilson, MVHC Director of Health Information Management and Quality. “To think that we - the Le Sueur community - won’t be affected by a catastrophic event - isn’t realistic. It isn’t a matter of if, but when.  Participating in this program was a very rewarding experience.”

Trish Townsdin, MVHC CEO/President, was also among the participants and envisions the opportunities beyond Le Sueur.

“FEMA’s training program was exceptional,” Townsdin says. “These new skills will benefit our community and all those we serve. Should mass casualty assistance ever be needed beyond the borders of Le Sueur County, we will have trained responders and healthcare professionals ready to provide support.”

To learn more about the Center for Domestic Preparedness, visit

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