July 1, 2013

Suited up: Hospital E.R. nurses receive Hazmat training

By Rob McDaniel
Staff Writer

LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — In a joint operation between Kentucky Fire Commission State Fire Rescue Training, Industrial Division; Saint Joseph London and the Laurel County Chemical Stockpile Emergency Preparedness Program (CSEPP), select staff from Saint Joseph London received hazardous materials decontamination training this week.

The staff, primarily emergency room workers, received eight hours of training from specialists from the Kentucky Fire Commission.  Training consisted of four hours of classroom instruction and four hours of hands on training.

The training provided by the State Fire Rescue Training, Industrial Division is designed to train facilities, industries and hospitals to maintain OSHA compliance.  It’s primary purpose is to teach facility staff to safely manage and control the level of exposure in a chemical situation.

Training included symptoms of chemical exposure, protective equipment and procedures for decontaminating and treating chemically-exposed patients.  It also taught staff how to remove the contaminate from the patient and how to dispose of clothing and other personal belongings in a way that would limit additional exposure.

During the training, Chantz McPeek, industrial training specialist for the Kentucky Fire Commission, stressed the importance of emergency responders knowing how to react in the event of a chemical exposure in the area.

“If something happens at the depot in Madison County, people are going to be coming here for treatment,” McPeek said.  “If a patient is exposed to chemicals, we don’t want to contaminate the entire hospital, so we’re showing them how to take the patients another route so they can get decontaminated and then treated for illness and injury.

“We’re also teaching the staff how, if someone is exposed to a violent product, they can remove that product,” McPeek continued.

Hospital staff began by putting on hazardous material protective suits and ventilators to understand how it felt to have all of the equipment on and how to properly wear it in the case of a chemical emergency.

Once in the required equipment, the hospital staff was shown how to set up various zones for patients.

“We teach them to set up three zones,” McPeek said.  “The hot zone is outside, it’s where all the contaminated victims are waiting to be decontaminated.  The warm zone is what we call the product reduction zone, it’s where the patient is showering and scrubbing the contaminate off their body.  The cold zone is inside, at this point the patient is clean and ready for treatment.”

After completion and certification of training, the staff will be required to participate in annual refresher training.

The State Fire Rescue Training is offered throughout the state.  For more information or to schedule training, contact the Kentucky Fire Commission, State Fire Rescue Training at 862-0318.