Emergency personnel take part in decontamination drill

Northeast Mississippi Healthcare Coalition sponsored the drill to help members see what resources are available in case of a large scale emergency

TUPELO, Miss. (WCBI) – Emergency medical personnel across Northeast Mississippi spent part of their day learning how to use decontamination equipment in case of a large-scale emergency.

In the east parking lot of the Cadence Bank Arena, teams worked on mannequins, representing victims exposed to hazardous materials.

Each victim must be decontaminated, along with the scissors, backboards, and other items used to care for the patients.

This training was hosted by the Northeast Mississippi Healthcare Coalition, with help from the Mississippi State Department of Health, and the Tupelo Fire Department.

Brad Robinson is deputy chief of operations for the Tupelo Fire Department. He said this training applies to many scenarios.

“If there was an incident where somebody got into any kind of hazmat issue, any kind of liquid, any other kind of contaminated substance that would be harmful to their body, we could decon them, anybody around them, try to help decon first responders who got into that incident as well,” said Robinson.

Robinson said firefighters routinely use decon procedures.

“We’re trying to show importance, we use it every day, on any type of fire, we want guys to decon themselves, after the fire, to leave the bad stuff there, when we get done, and not put it in the truck or take it back to the fire station,” said Robinson.

While decon training is the main goal of this exercise, it also lets members of the coalition see what resources are available in case of a large-scale event.

“We can establish a communications channel to establish those resources quickly and bring those to bear to those that need them and not have to wait several days or weeks to get some resources in place,” said Wade Westmoreland of the Northeast Mississippi Healthcare Coalition.

In the event of any large-scale emergency dealing with hazardous materials, the United Way of Northeast Mississippi would help coordinate volunteer response.  Emma James is with the United Way and said the training helps keep everyone on the same page.

“If we had a big event like this we would know where to send people and kind of what that would look like so we can better inform our volunteers on what to do,” said James.

More than 30 people took part in the decon training.

The Healthcare Coalition serves 11 counties throughout Northeast Mississippi.

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