TWIN FALLS, Idaho (KLIX) – Medical staff at St. Luke’s hospitals in Twin Falls, Jerome and the Wood River Valley upped their training on how to treat patients with infectious disease during emergency drills on Tuesday.

In Twin Falls, an employee with South Central Public Health District played the sick patient, one infected with the Ebola virus.

Amanda Prestigiacomo, a registered nurse at St. Luke’s Magic Valley, evaluates Jodi Matott, who pretended to be a patient infected with the Ebola virus, during an emergency drill on Tuesday at the hospital. (Photo courtesy of Michelle Bartlome, St. Luke’s Magic Valley)

These types of training sessions are beneficial, said Trish Heath, coordinator of Emergency Management at St. Luke’s Magic Valley Medical Center, because they help staff learn the process of treating real patients in the event of such emergencies.

On Tuesday, they trained how to deal with certain pathogens, such as Ebola.

The hospital is required to do at least one emergency training event every year. “But we’re very proactive at this hospital,” Heath said, noting that the hospital plans several exercises throughout the year.

St. Luke's partnered with the health district, she said, and in all about 10 people participated in the Twin Falls event, including hospital staff, emergency managers and first responders.

Whitney Suitter, right, a registered nurse at St. Luke’s Magic Valley, takes off the personal protective equipment used during the emergency drill on Tuesday. (Photo courtesy of Michelle Bartlome, St. Luke’s Magic Valley)

Now that training is over, each of the hospitals involved will evaluate the sessions, share notes, and discuss what worked and what could be done better.

Later this year the hospital will train on how to deal with an increased number of patients, a scenario that could happen this August when thousands of people are expected to flood parts of Idaho and Oregon for the solar eclipse.

“With that many more people in the area, it means more could be coming to the emergency rooms,” Heath said.

Preparing for that possibility is always “better to do in a drill than in real life,” she said.