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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Nebraska Coalition Sponsors Decontamination Training: June 2013

No hospital stands alone, which is why the Hospital Preparedness Program emphasizes building coalitions that involve the entire health care system, emergency management agencies, non-government organizations and others in the community in planning for and responding to disasters.

In planning together, the health care coalition near Scottsbluff, in western Nebraska, decontamination procedures stood out as a gap. Some hospitals had a turnover of staff and new staff were unfamiliar with decontamination procedures; others had procedures that had never been tested. Some facilities had used decontamination on a small scale with farming accidents and had identified areas for improvement for their responses.

So the coalition sponsored its first training for disasters that involve hazardous materials like chemical or biological materials. More than 30 representatives from coalition hospitals and first responder organizations participated May 29 and 30 in the coalition’s first “Hospital First Receiver Course”. To conduct the training, coalition members worked with the Center for Preparedness Education at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, which hosts a few of such training courses in the state each year.

They timed the training to take advantage of two coalition drills: a decontamination tabletop exercise in the spring and a full-scale decontamination exercise in June. So the training leveraged lessons learned from the tabletop exercise and from the served as part of the overall coalition preparation for the full-scale exercise.

Using HPP funding and working with a local training academy on a location, the coalition was able to hold the training free of charge to participants. In this particular coalition area, holding training locally and with very little expense for the participant enables hospitals to send employees.

Participants improved their skills in procedures to don and dof (put on and take off) air purifying respirators; learned self-decontamination; practiced procedures for decontamination, and discussed the medical aspects of response, such as signs and symptoms of contaminated patients, response issues from a hospital perspective, and roles of hospital personnel acting as first receivers in a decontamination event.

Completing of the two-day course met guidelines set by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration for operations-level training. Those who participated only the first day met OSHA guidelines for awareness-level training.

  • This page last reviewed: November 20, 2013