Ogden disaster drill very realistic

Apr 27 2011 - 11:11pm

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(JAMIE LAMPROS/Standard-Examiner correspondent) 
After being sprayed down and scrubbed in a decontamination tent Wednesday, accident “victim” Jeri Frost is transported to the emergency room at Ogden Regional Medical Center. The procedure was part of a multi-agency, mass casualty drill.
(JAMIE LAMPROS/Standard-Examiner correspondent) 
A volunteer decontaminator waits for a “victim” outside the decontamination tent at Ogden Regional Medical Center on Wednesday.
(JAMIE LAMPROS/Standard-Examiner correspondent) 
Volunteer Rachel Williams is scrubbed down inside the decontamination tent at Ogden Regional Medical Center on Wednesday during a multi-agency, mass casualty drill.
(JAMIE LAMPROS/Standard-Examiner correspondent) 
After being sprayed down and scrubbed in a decontamination tent Wednesday, accident “victim” Jeri Frost is transported to the emergency room at Ogden Regional Medical Center. The procedure was part of a multi-agency, mass casualty drill.
(JAMIE LAMPROS/Standard-Examiner correspondent) 
A volunteer decontaminator waits for a “victim” outside the decontamination tent at Ogden Regional Medical Center on Wednesday.
(JAMIE LAMPROS/Standard-Examiner correspondent) 
Volunteer Rachel Williams is scrubbed down inside the decontamination tent at Ogden Regional Medical Center on Wednesday during a multi-agency, mass casualty drill.

OGDEN -- Jeri Frost was shivering, she couldn't walk and she was having trouble breathing.

The Weber County "jail inmate" was suffering from a broken leg and exposure to a hazardous chemical after the van she was being transported in collided with a train carrying hydrazine on 12th Street in Ogden.

"I've been coughing, and my skin is burning," she said. "My leg is broken, and my back hurts."

After being taken to Ogden Regional Medical Center, Frost was rushed to a decontamination tent, where she was sprayed down and scrubbed clean of the toxic chemical.

"We need to make sure the emergency room stays free of contamination and that everyone involved is protected," said Scot Davis, de-con lead at Ogden Regional.

"We have our tent set up outside so patients can be taken there, stripped down and scrubbed of any toxin before we bring them inside."

Frost isn't really a jail inmate, and there was no real accident on 12th Street involving a hazardous chemical. The event was a multi-agency, mass casualty coordination drill involving police, firefighters, trauma workers and volunteers.

"We did this particular scenario because we have a lot of train tracks here that carry a lot of chemicals. There are also hazardous material tanker trucks and radioactive waste transported on our roads," Davis said.

"We need to know we can handle such a disaster and that everyone is working together, communicating and understanding our roles."

Locally, the drill included Ogden Regional security and trauma staff, as well as South Ogden firefighters and the Weber County Sheriff's Office. Statewide, 12 hospitals participated along with emergency medical services and law enforcement agencies.

"We think it's important to be prepared and know we will be able to handle a situation such as this one, should it occur," said Terry Carpenter, security manager at Ogden Regional.

"If we have inmates involved in a catastrophe, we need to know how to deal with them and be prepared to do so."

The chemical hydrazine was chosen because it is often carried on trains and trucks. It's a colorless, flammable liquid that is highly toxic and dangerous, Davis said. It's also a known carcinogen with an ammonia-like odor and can be very unstable.

"Not only would we expect to have victims from the accident itself, but we would expect to see people come in who may have been in the area who saw a plume of smoke and may have trouble breathing or have some burning skin," Davis said.

Frost, a member of the Roy Community Emergency Response Team, said she thought the drill went very well.

"I think it would be very scary to be involved in something like this for real," she said.

"I got a little nervous when they got the brushes out and started spraying me down. It felt real.

"It was reassuring to look up and see a lot of people who cared about me, though. I thought they all did a really good job."

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