Fisher-Titus Hosts Emergency Training Exercise

On April 6 and 7 Fisher-Titus hosted an emergency training exercise for members of Fisher-Titus’s Hospital Emergency Response Team (HERT), facilities employees, emergency department staff, and participants from The Bellevue Hospital that covered a decontamination scenario.

“The exercise was a huge success and greatly beneficial for our teams,” said Lynn Kochheiser, manager, emergency management program at Fisher-Titus. “This was the first time we ran patients through the decontamination (decon) tent. It was extremely important to test the new equipment and make sure hospital staff knows how to use the equipment and how to set up a decontamination corridor to keep patients and staff safe. The exercise also allowed us to test location of the equipment and will inform the development of our hazardous materials decontamination plan.”

For the first day, participants took part in a class that covered hospital incident command, hazardous materials, personal protective equipment including powered air purifying respirators, chemical protective suits, donning and doffing of equipment, types of decontamination, and more to prepare for the exercise the following day.

On the following day, 12 junior and senior volunteers from Norwalk High School’s Teen Leadership Corps acted as patients in the exercise. The scenario said that three students presented at the emergency department with symptoms after an airplane applying chemicals to fields malfunctioned and sprayed students and farm workers. The first volunteer patients went through decon showers in the emergency department and as more patients arrived, a larger decon tent was assembled and utilized outside the emergency department. Norwalk Fire Department was also present in case back up was needed.

The exercise gave the teams experience in recognizing the presence of hazardous materials contamination, activating the hospital incident command system and hospital emergency response team, notifying and coordinating emergency response activities with community partner agencies, establishing a decontamination corridor and safely triaging/decontaminating patients, and executing proper donning and doffing procedures with the required personal protective equipment.

The HERT is comprised of Fisher-Titus staff from many departments and specialties that activate and respond during an emergency. They are often the primary hospital defense and first medical care providers for patients arriving at the hospital during a large-scale emergency.

Fisher-Titus conducts several drills each year to prepare for different types of emergency situations. In addition to being valuable in preparing for real-life crises, two drills per year are required by the Healthcare Facilities Accreditation Program.