Emergency responders complete chemical weapon training | PostIndependent.com

Emergency responders complete chemical weapon training

Staff report
Grand River Hospital District emergency responders Tina Moon, Arrow Lontine and Jennifer Hager suit up for response training in the event of a chemical weapon attack. They were part of a team that recently completed training at the Center for Domestic Preparedness in Anniston, Ala.
Courtesy photo |

Although an unlikely scenario, if a chemical weapon hit Rifle or the surrounding area, the emergency responders at Grand River Hospital District would be better prepared than most people to react to the situation.

Emergency team members Lynda Steinbach, Jennifer Jordt, Terry Schmidt, Jennifer Hager, Tina Moon, Arrow Lontine, Chad Wagner and Mark Opstein recently returned from Anniston, Alabama, where they completed training at the Center for Domestic Preparedness, according to a press release. Operated by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency, the CDP campus is the only federally chartered weapons of mass destruction training facility in the nation.

The group learned how to decontaminate casualties in a mass casualty incident — incidents involving chemicals weapons such as sarin gas, VX nerve agents and ricin toxins. One exercise required participants to triage, decontaminate and retest patients before providing the care they needed. In less than three hours, the group completed this routine with 123 patients, the press release stated.

“Our group felt it was the most intense and focused training we could receive concerning the hospital emergency response team training,” said Opstein, a member of the hazardous material team at Grand River Health. The hands-on experience was invaluable, he added. “Though we hope there never is a need for our team to have to deal with a mass casualty incident, we are very glad that we had the opportunity to be prepared for any situation that might arise to care for our people in this area.”

CDP develops and delivers advanced training for emergency response providers, emergency managers and other government officials from state, local and tribal governments. With more than 40 training courses focusing on incident management, mass casualty response and emergency response to a catastrophic natural disaster or terrorist act, responders participating in CDP training gain critical skills and confidence to respond effectively to local incidents or potential weapons of mass destruction events. The training is federally funded at no cost to emergency response professionals or their agency.

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