Evacuating thousands of people during an emergency takes a lot of work. Imagine trying to evacuate thousands of people from a building during a tornado, flood, or mass shooting.
On Tuesday, Avera McKennan and law enforcement worked together to prepare for the worst.
A tornado hits Avera McKennan's main hospital and leaves part of the building damaged. That was the scenario played out on Tuesday.
"I don't think this is a stretch at all," Sioux Falls Public Health Manager Sandy Frentz said.
Frentz says it's important to look at the possible risks in our community and prepare for them. On Tuesday, employees evacuated more than two-dozen mock patients.
"To have one of this extent takes a lot of planning," Avera McKennan Director of Environmental Safety Kathy Jacobs said.
Some crews even had to carry patients down the stairs because during an emergency, the elevators can quit working.
"We want to know what works, as well as what doesn't," Jacobs said.
While some crews helped evacuate patients, others grabbed medication and supplies patients would need in the next 24 hours.
At the command center set up in the building, crews contacted other hospitals in the area to see if they would have room for extra patients.
"We have a healthcare coalition where the hospitals work together to support each other," Frentz said.
All this happened while current patients were at the hospital. While it could cause a little confusion, staff notified all patients of the drill. But, hospital officials say this could be life-saving in the future.
"We are the upper end of tornado alley. We have frequent tornado watches and warnings that happen," Jacobs said.
The evacuation exercise will also take place on Wednesday at the Avera Behavioral Health Center and on Thursday at the Avera Prince of Peace Retirement Community and Dougherty Hospice House.