Student volunteers at Comanche County Memorial Hospital this summer got to see an area of the hospital many people haven’t seen before. Not only did they get to see the room where people go to get sprayed off if they’re exposed to hazardous materials, but they also got to suit up and go through a hazmat exercise.
Some volunteers got to suit up, while others were the “victims” in this exercise that needed to get sprayed off before being able to go inside the hospital for further treatment.
“When I woke up this morning, I was like, ‘I really just don’t want to get wet,’” said student volunteen Dalton Sawyer. “So, I went second in the room to get dressed, and we ended up having to stay in this, so I was happy.”
Lauren Wells, a volunteen who got sprayed off, said the water was really cold.
“And lucky for me, I got the one who soaked me completely,” Wells said. “The guy came over and was like, ‘just FYI, it’s really beneficial to like the whole thing cause that’s what you’re supposed to do.’ I was like, ‘really?’”
While she wasn’t looking forward to it, when asked her favorite part, it was getting sprayed.
“I didn’t like it at first, but I was like it was kinda nice,” Wells said. “It’s not that bad.”
Before they went through the hands-on exercise, they learned about when the decontamination room is needed and how the hazmat team works.
“I learned a lot like how to put the suit on and the procedures and the steps to do it and kinda like how to do it correctly,” Wells said. “How to do it correctly, how to do it incorrectly.”
Nick Eimers-Mosier, the Risk Manager and Emergency Management program coordinator for CCMH, said they do these exercises routinely.
“When we deal with disaster preparedness, we never really know when that is going to happen,” Eimers-Mosier said. “So, really your best defense is going to be that continuous training that you do with your staff.”
While the hospital has a team that’s trained and always on call, this was a chance to let the students better understand different parts of the hospital and what they do.
“Going down all the steps and having to do: the duct tape, the mask, the tube and everything,” Sawyer said. “That was fun.”
“This gives them an opportunity to see what it actually takes to get those off of someone’s body,” Eimers-Mosier said. “Maybe it will help them to be a bit more cautious in their practices later in life as well.”
The water used in the decontamination room goes into a containment tank which then gets pumped out by a certified team.
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