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Septmeber 8, 2011 

As 9/11 Anniversary Approaches Recent Drills Shed Light on Hospital Preparedness

Sheboygan, Wis. — It's a scene of chaos - a school bus overturned in a ditch, students with multiple injuries, and diesel fuel leaking onto the children. But as those students are brought to St. Nicholas Hospital, the chaos calms as medical workers test their emergency preparedness during this drill, which took place at the end of August. "We keep all of our drills realistic, so very few details are released to a small number of colleagues," said Steve Pelch, Security Director, St. Nicholas Hospital. "Emergency Department colleagues were surprised to learn the mass casualty event to be drilled was actually a large group of pediatric patients needing decontamination."

Exercises like this one ensure that hospital colleagues are prepared to meet the needs of their community during a disaster. "9/11 was an impetus for change in emergency management," said Pelch. "But since then we've learned that natural disasters and technological events have just as large of an impact on hospitals, so we focus preparedness on all of them."

In addition to preparing for casualties, hospitals must also evaluate whether they are targets themselves. "Every year, we conduct a Hazard Vulnerability Analysis, which we share with hospitals and health care partners across the state," said Pelch. "We have open discussions with local Emergency Management and Public Health officials to analyze the likelihood of an event, and how best to respond."

The bottom line is that since 9/11, hospitals have learned to communicate better and support each other. "And, we have found that the increasing standards set forth by regulatory agencies make us better," said Pelch. "Meeting and exceeding those standards makes us more prepared in an emergency, and able to give better care on a daily basis."

Steve Pelch has a long history in public safety. He was sworn in as a police officer in 1988, and has also worked as an Investigator, Firefighter and Paramedic. Steve is currently the Director of Safety for HSHS Division - Eastern Wisconsin, which includes St. Nicholas Hospital, as well as St. Mary's Hospital Medical Center and St. Vincent Hospital, both in Green Bay.

About St. Nicholas Hospital

St. Nicholas Hospital is a non-profit hospital sponsored by the Hospital Sisters of St. Francis located at 3100 Superior Avenue , Sheboygan , Wisconsin . Our mission and vision is to provide family-centered, compassionate care without regard for race, creed, or ability to pay. This is achieved through our core values of respect, care, competence, and joy. To learn more, visit .

About Hospital Sisters Health System

Hospital Sisters Health System is a Roman Catholic health care mission founded to continue the healing ministry of Jesus Christ. Sponsored by the Hospital Sisters of St. Francis, HSHS provides state-of-the-art health care framed in traditional values taught by St. Francis and St. Clare of Assisi . It is dedicated to serving all people, including the poor and the needy, at each of its 13 Local Systems in Wisconsin (Sheboygan, Chippewa Falls, Eau Claire, and two in Green Bay) and in Illinois (Belleville, Breese, Decatur, Effingham, Highland, Litchfield, Springfield and Streator). For more information about HSHS, visit

CONTACT: Lisa Malak
Media/PR Specialist
St. Vincent Hospital
835 South Van Buren Street
Green Bay , WI 54301


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St. Nicholas HospitSt. Nicholas Hospital, 3100 Superior Avenue, Sheboygan, WI Ph:920-459-8300
 100 Superior Avenue
 Sheboygan, WI 53081