April 14, 2006

This was no drill: storms’ wrath touches VUMC community

Featured Image

C. Wright Pinson, M.D., was among faculty and staff in the VUMC Emergency Operations Center during last Friday's diaster preparedness exercise. The drill, rescheduled once in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina last fall, was halted in response to the violent storms on April 7.
Photo by Dana Johnson

This was no drill: storms’ wrath touches VUMC community

The potent storms that roiled through Middle Tennessee last Friday did not leave Vanderbilt University Medical Center unscathed.

• Several employees who live in the hardest-hit areas north and west of Nashville suffered property damage ranging from missing roof tiles to flattened houses;

• Vanderbilt University Hospital braced for, received and cared for the tornadoes' most critically injured victims. Seven patients were admitted, three of whom were still being cared for at presstime;

• The nation's largest-ever multi-agency disaster preparedness exercise, in which Vanderbilt was a primary player, was halted early to tackle the emergency. Though it ended abruptly, the timing of the multi-county exercise could not have been better — officials credit heightened preparedness levels for the quick response in the aftermath of the storms.

The homes of at least eight employees were severely damaged, and three were destroyed. There is a way for Vanderbilt faculty and staff to help. Those who want to donate funds or gift cards to the Vanderbilt Faculty and Staff Hardship Fund can contact Work/Life Connections-EAP at 936-1327 or visit www.vanderbilt.edu/hrs/wel-lness/wlc.html.

The recovery process will take not only time and money, but emotional support as well, said Jim Kendall, manager of Work/Life Connections-EAP.

“The tornadoes had a devastating impact on the lives of several members of the Vanderbilt family. Emotionally, this is a trauma that will be with those survivors for some time as they go about rebuilding and recovering.”

Kendall urges any employees impacted by the storms to contact his office, which, in addition to financial assistance, can assist them in processing the psychological aftereffects that such a traumatic incident can have on their lives.

The tornadoes that swept through the region April 7 killed 12 people and injured 181, according to the Tennessee Emergency Management Association. Amid the chaos of that day and the trials in the days that followed, Vanderbilt acquitted itself well, Harry Jacobson, M.D., vice chancellor for Health Affairs, said in a communiqué to faculty and staff.

“I am proud of the way everyone responded to the tornadoes that came through Middle Tennessee last Friday. You were prepared.

“You acted quickly and with concern. You were reliable and professional and you were there for your patients and the larger community.

“Thank you for your skill, dedication and commitment,” Jacobson said.


Those who wish to donate funds or gift cards to Vanderbilt employees impacted by last week’s storms can contact Work Life Connections-EAP at 936-1327, or visit the Web site www.vanderbilt.edu/hrs/wellness/wlc.html.

Per regulations, donations cannot be designated for a specific individual.