Hazmat training focuses on emergency response

Published 11:00 pm Friday, September 2, 2011

Learning how to process and decontaminate accident victims was the focus of a “hazmat” training session this week at Troy Regional Medical Center.

The training, held in conjunction with the Troy Fire Department, was designed to give hospital staff experience in proper handling of patients who may have come in contact with dangerous chemicals or materials.

“That patient doesn’t need to be brought into an environment where there are other patients or people he could come in contact with, such as the staff,” said Jennifer Ventress, chief nursing officer for the hospital. “The Troy Fire Department is well-trained on this and they worked with our staff to reinforce how we would handle patients.”

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Ventress said while the hospital hasn’t had to deal with issues of contamination, being prepared is critical. “There are some industries in town who work with serious chemicals and all kinds of stuff goes up and down U.S. 231,” she said. “If we had a wreck, a gas leak, a chlorine spill … our staff needs to be trained in how to respond.”

During the training, a staff volunteer played the role of a patient, undergoing the decontamination process for participants to watch.

“Basically, you have to remove a patient’s clothing and give them a quick bath with water and a certain kind of soap before they can brought into the emergency room,” Ventress said. The process includes setting up a makeshift wash station, using ladders and tarps.

“Many of the industries in town have their own teams trained to do this, and the Troy Fire Department is well-trained in how to do this,” she said. “Usually, the decontamination would take place at the scene, but we need to know what to do here in case a patient is transported by private vehicle to the hospital.”

Ventress said the training program was successful.

“I’m so impressed with our fire department,” Ventress said. “They knew their stuff backwards and forwards and worked well with us. It’s good to know these guys ar going to be there if the city needs them.”