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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Tornadoes in Joplin, MO: May 2011

Hospital Preparedness Program (HPP)

Devistation from the tornado in Joplin    In response to the aftermath of the May 22, 2011 Joplin EF5 tornado, many of the ASPR Hospital Preparedness Program (HPP) resources were deployed.  Planning, training and exercises funded through the HPP for hospitals and Federally Qualified Health Centers provided the infrastructure, in part, for the prepared response that occurred during the tornado.

Partnership and coalition building, including the development of a statewide hospital Mutual Aid Agreement, was utilized in Joplin and with many of the 40 hospitals that accepted injured individuals. 

Roughly 30% of the City of Joplin’s infrastructure was destroyed including St. John’s Regional Medical Center which had to evacuate all 183 patients from the facility. Med Sleds, funded through the HPP, assisted staff in evacuating patients down as many as eight flights of stairs.

With the assistance of the National Guard and the MO State Disaster Medical Assistance Team (DMAT), the fully operational 60-bed Mobile Medical Unit (MMU) was deployed and fully operational within a week of the tornado.  The MMU, purchased with the HPP and Homeland Security funding and owned by Taney County Ambulance District, provided emergency services, in-patient care and intensive care and in conjunction with other resources brought in by St. John’s, supported surgery, MRI and CAT scan capabilities.

The Mobile Medical/Communication trailers were deployed to provide medical supplies and redundant forms of communication.  DMAT deployed Rapid Response Trailers and team members to assist with triage and emergency treatment.  Fatality management equipment was deployed.  The EMResource, a communication tool, was used to provide situational awareness and hospitals’ bed status.

The Emergency Operations Coordination Unit for the state health department’s Center for Emergency Response and Terrorism operates the Department Situation Room (DSR) that serves as the coordination point for Emergency Support Function #8 (ESF#8) responses to public health related emergencies.  Just three days following the New Madrid Seismic Zone National Level Exercise (NLE), the DSR was quickly activated and fully staffed to function as a command and control center for the public health response in response to this devastating event.  In addition to staffing for the DSR, the Department of Health and Senior Services supported trained emergency responders who also reported to the State Emergency Operations Center.  The public health resources that were exercised during the NLE and mentioned above, were the very resources that were needed for this real world event and were coordinated through the DSR.   Dedicated staff work around the clock to ensure that the public health needs for the Joplin community were met.

The Department of Mental Health Office of Disaster Readiness’ HPP funded staff assisted with coordination of the deployment of volunteers into the field, as well as distributed Emotional First Aid brochures and various other educational materials addressing typical trauma response to a disaster event.

  • This page last reviewed: November 20, 2013