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Area hospitals sign voluntary Disaster Aid Agreement

By Eileen Buckley

http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/wbfo/local-wbfo-935410.mp3

Buffalo, NY – More than 20 hospitals across the eight counties have Western New York have signed a voluntary Disaster Aid Agreement. As WBFO'S Eileen Buckley reports it will provide mutual aid in the event of an emergency or disaster situation that overwhelms the resources of an individual or multiple hospitals.

John Bartimole is president of the Western New York Health Care Association. The agreement has been in the works for more than a year. But even though many of these hospitals and agencies are competitors, they put aside their competitive nature and instead are ready to help the community and its citizens.

"It is going to be a seamless process. It's in place the protocol is there. There will be hiccups. And I think the residents of Western New York can be very much reassured that hospital coverage will be available in the event of something disastrous happening," said Bartimole.

Daniel McCartan is a registered nurse. He is also the program coordinator of the Western New York Regional Resource Center for Emergency Preparedness and Disaster Response at Erie County Medical Center.

"We actually have a mutual aid agreement in place among all the hospitals among the eight counties of Western New York," said McCartan.

For years, hospitals within counties had their own mutual aid agreements to assist one another in disasters. But this deal now allows hospitals to cross-county-lines to work together if needed.

"Which includes the sharing of not only staff, but hospital resources, medical, pharmaceuticals. hospital supplies, IV tubing, whatever the case maybe," Said McCartan.

The deal also addresses assistance with hospital evacuation and includes accepting transferred patients. Bartimole noted this is strictly a voluntary agreement.

From major snow storms, flooding disasters to an emergency like the tragic crash of Flight 3407 in Clarence or a potential flu pandemic, these are all examples of how this mutual aid program would allow hospitals to share assistance and keep patients safe.