FORT BELVOIR, Va. (Sept 9, 2017) -- Fort Belvoir Community Hospital held a large-scale mass casualty exercise Sept. 8 to train and prepare for any natural or man-made disaster that could strike. In many ways, the event looks like the production of an action movie – police cars, ambulances, actors with (fake) wounds, and doctors saving lives. While no lives were actually saved or lost during the exercise, the participants know the information gleaned could prove beneficial at a moment’s notice. “We practice trauma care, resuscitative medical care, and decontamination of chemical threats. These events are incredible opportunities to practice our craft and keep our skills sharp as military medical providers,” said Col. Tim Barron, chief of Belvoir Hospital’s Emergency Department. “The involvement and familiarity or our medical practice in conjunction with our partners in law enforcement, fire suppression, and SWAT continue to be reinforced and strengthened through these exercises.”The mass casualty exercise took place only days after Hurricane Harvey devastated Houston, hours before Hurricane Irma made landfall in Florida, and three days before the 16th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The mass casualty exercise, which spanned about three hours, is a requirement of the Joint Commission, but the Belvoir Hospital participants know the events can go from “training” to “real world” very quickly. The purpose of doctors, nurses, other personnel engaged in direct patient care is to save as many lives as possible. During the training exercise, however, the focus is on systems, processes, and communication. Barron said Belvoir Hospital is uniquely positioned to work with military, federal, and civilian assets on a daily basis, but trading business cards with a counterpart or a point-of-contact in another agency is not something to do when a real-world mass casualty event has just happened.