Hospital demonstrates new decontamination equipment

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:53

Warwick - They came to St. Anthony Community Hospital to witness a demonstration of emergency equipment that everyone hoped would never have to be used. On Aug. 31, hospital staff and Warwick town and village officials along with representatives of state, county and local first responder organizations gathered in the parking area near the emergency entrance of the hospital. The visitors included members of the New York State Police, Orange County HAZMAT, Orange County Department of Health, Warwick Police and Fire Departments and Warwick and Regional EMS and other interested parties. They had come to witness or participate in a hands-on demonstration of the new state-of-the art rapid deployable decontamination shelter now available at St. Anthony Community Hospital. The three hour on site demonstration and exercise was conducted by Andy Braun, regional sales manager for Zumro, Inc., manufacturer of the Model 128 "Decon Shelter," and the accessory equipment designed to quickly decontaminate victims of an accidental chemical spill or, in a worst case scenario, a terrorist attack. A more likely event in this area would be a farm accident involving phosphates such as fertilizer. The portable structure, sometimes referred to as a decon tent, is broken into two separate units on either side to allow for the cleansing of two chemical-spill victims at a time. The shelter, which employs compressed air for rapid deployment, comes with color-coded hoses that can be quickly attached to warm or cold water outlets and soap dispensers. In an actual situation, it would be erected just outside the emergency room entrance so that the arriving victim or victims could be decontaminated before entering the hospital. Curtains within the shelter offer privacy during the showering. A special conveyor table can also be set up to accommodate patients who are unable to walk. The shelter, designed for durability and significant resistance to inclement weather, can be instantly deployed by even one person under adverse conditions. "We chose the Zumro decontamination tent because of its ease of use and quality," said the hospital's Emergency Preparedness Coordinator Joie Ogrodnick, RN, CEN. "Under Homeland Security, and on a State Department of Health level, all hospitals have received grant funding for emergency preparedness. One of the Federal expectations is that the Hospitals, Health Departments, Fire, Police, and EMS work collaboratively in preparation and response to any kind of disaster. Here at St. Anthony's, we have been doing that by means of meetings, policies, and drills on multiple levels." Whenever possible, she explained, St. Anthony Community Hospital purchases standardized emergency equipment that can be shared with other county or regional hospitals or agencies. In the event of a large scale emergency in this area, the Zumro portable decontamination tent, for example, is designed to be easily joined to similar equipment owned by other agencies. The Commissioner of Orange County Department of Health, Jean Hudson, MD, and Seamus Leary, Director of Public Health Emergency Response, were among the County officials who came to view the demonstration. "The members of St Anthony's staff have played an active role working with Orange County Health Department on public health emergency preparedness issues and have made a valuable contribution to the hospital component of our plans," said Hudson. "This demonstration of the new decontamination equipment was an excellent example of a community hospital stepping up to the plate to expand its level of preparedness and by working with local and county partners, all present, do its best for the community." Warwick's Assistant Fire Chief Gregory Snigur was it was essential for all emergency first responders, especially volunteers who are not always available during the day, to conduct realistic exercises that involve actual water and soap connections. "We'll schedule frequent drills to make sure that everyone is proficient," he said. As part of St. Anthony Community Hospital Emergency Department's commitment to community outreach and education, the hospital has also sponsored a series of lectures designed to meet the educational needs of local ambulance squads and other emergency organizations.