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Community Hospital Trains Staff In Hazmat Exposure

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. - Community Hospital held an emergency preparedness exercise for their staff Wednesday morning.

"These type of emergency preparedness drills are really important for healthcare organizations, Community Hospital tries to do them every one to two years," said Community Hospital Communications Director Karen Martsolf.

The exercise was set up to test the capabilities of the hospital's emergency triage department.

"We have actors from our nurse residency program, we have people who are observing the incident to just see how our staff is responding, and then we have simulation of media and public calling in as concerned citizens to see how our staff would respond in those situations," said Martsolf.

The main areas of focus for these types of exercises are protection, mitigation, response and recovery. This particular drill is based on a scenario involving the decontamination of external chemical threats. "We are simulating a car accident that involved a tractor trailer carrying 50 gallon drums of pesticides," said Martsolf.

The staff members acted as patients coming into the emergency room having been exposed to external hazardous chemicals. "How we as a hospital prepare for that situation of incoming patients and how we treat them, and how we triage those patients, and if we get beyond our span of control, how we work with other hospitals in our community to take care of those patients," said Martsolf.

Hospital staff says these situations could become reality any day. "It's really important to train our staff for potential real world experiences but in a controlled and safe learning environment," said Martsolf.

Although situations like this might be rare, Community Hospital says their emergency preparedness drills are designed to establish emergency response plans and procedures that are effective to both their staff and patients.

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