Hospital tests suits and protocol

Published 6:21 pm Tuesday, August 1, 2006

Highland Community Hospital conducted a test of suits designed to protect clean-up crews and medical personnel in case of hazardous contamination.

With the help of six high school students, the local hospital tested their Powered Air Purified Respirator suits as they simulated a code orange test.

“They were very happy to donate their time and had a lot of fun doing it,” said Pam O’Flynn, director of Radiology, Cardiology and Safety for the hospital.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

The exercise was a test of how well the hospital follows policy and plans, O’Flynn said. Part of the operation was to set up an external triage and decontamination tent. There were no real injuries during the exercise, she said.

“I think the operation went very well,” O’Flynn said.

Hazmat representative and Picayune Fire Department training officer Barry Lee oversaw the operation, which was the first full-scale, on-site exercise since the storm, O’Flynn said.

The exercise is designed to simulate a large scale incident such as a train switching accident involving hazardous materials such as chlorine, she said. Trained hospital employees volunteered for the exercise that took place Thursday afternoon, O’Flynn said.

The PAPR suits are level C suits for contaminants, she said. Homeland Security Grant Funds helped buy 50 suits, however 35 were damaged during Hurricane Katrina so the hospital has only 15 in working condition, O’Flynn said. More suits are in the process of being secured, she said.

“We want to be able to provide this service so the community knows we can take care of them,” O’Flynn said.

The hospital conducts various exercises regularly with their frequency depending on the exercise, she said. This exercise is conducted once a year of if any changes have been made in the hospital, O’Flynn said.