NEW YORK(CBSNewYork) — Employees at a Staten Island hospital spent the day preparing for disaster on Monday.

Gurneys carrying orange body bags were pushed down the halls at Staten Island University Hospital, where workers explained to CBS 2’s Elise Finch how the training would help them deal with a massive outbreak of a deadly virus.

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“If you work in a hospital that’s something that could happen,” said Susan Guariano, a transporter.

Barcode badges on each body were scanned to identify the deceased. The bags were placed in refrigerated trucks that were parked at the hospital’s loading dock.

Hospital officials told CBS 2 that while the task is morbid, it is a necessary measure to test the hospital’s preparedness for handling mass fatalities.

“Pandemic influenza. Projections are that as many as twenty-percent of the population would be ill, and of those perhaps three-percent of the population could die,” explained David Roshetar, Director of Safety Services and Emergency Preparedness Coordinator.

The hospital’s drill assumes that the number of deaths occurring would overwhelm local funeral homes and morgues.

The final step in this grizzly task would be transporting from the hospital to a location designated by the city.

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“The city of New York would set aside certain locations that would actually be set up to manage those bodies,” said Dr. Brahim Ardolic, Chariman of Emergency Medicine, Staten island University Hospital.

This is not the first time that emergency managers have conducted this type of “worst-case-scenario” training. In 2009 they staged a hurricane evacuation drill. That plan was put into action in 2011 during Hurricane Irene.

Officials reiterated that the drills are run for events that are unlikely to happen, but would have a severe impact if they did.

What type of scenario do you think we should be preparing for? Let us know in our comments section below…



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