Practicing for disaster

Collien McNair RN, Stroke, Trauma, Chest Pain Coordinator; and Kelly Jones, BSN, RN, ED Nurse Navigator with Texas Health Kaufman participate in the recent hazmat drill.

Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Kaufman conducted a regulatory exercise July 13, one put on several times a year by Texas Health Resources’ System Preparedness and Response team. This exercise included participation from Kaufman Police Department, CareFlite and Kaufman County Emergency Management.

CareFlite simulated getting the call for a possible hazardous materials release related to criminal activity in the city. CareFlite began simulating transporting patients to the hospital, with other patient actors arriving on their own.

Eight hospital staff specially trained in the response to chemical or biological events began by setting up their decontamination equipment, which includes a tent that is equipped with a shower system for removing contamination from patients.

Jason McClaren, emergency management coordinator for the hospital, said the team also made contact with the victims, all volunteers from the community, and treated them according to the severity of their simulated injuries while also securing the facility in order to ensure the hospital remained operational and was not contaminated.

The planning process for these exercises is quite lengthy, taking about two to three months. But it’s well worth it, he added.

“Everybody took it seriously. This is a great training exercise for us to work on skills that we don’t get to use a lot,” he said. “It’s great opportunity for our people to train, learn and reacquaint themselves with the skills needed to deal with a hazmat accident.”

While this drill dealt with the plan of action for a potent hazardous material accident, the hospital trains for a wide variety of emergencies as a part of ITS all-hazards emergency management program.

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