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MDH Staff Undergoes Decontamination Training

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MACOMB, Ill. – During a recent training session, 19 members of the McDonough District Hospital staff underwent two days of education and hands-on experience of a decontamination process.

EMS Coordinator Chris Cunningham worked with Josh Baulk, a representative of the OSF Disaster Preparedness Team, during the event.

“We had 19 people go through the training. The initial training is two days, we also like to do a yearly training as a one-day. We had people in class who have never done the training before, so that is why we did the two-day training this year. The first day is classroom work, the second day is actually suiting up into a Level C decontamination suit and practice decontaminating several instructional dummies of various sizes,” said Cunningham, who also noted the suits they wore are for Level B as well. “Josh works with the region and all the regional hospitals are connected through this training.

“In the event of a large release of a chemical, there is a decon team through Macomb, Galesburg, Canton, and Monmouth that would do on-site decon up to a Level A (highest level),” said Cunningham. “After they would perform a gross decontamination of any patients, those patients would then come through our decontamination room where we would complete the process here at the hospital. This process is for any type of chemical that could pose harm to the patient or staff.”

Staff members worked in groups during day two putting on the Tyvek suit.

“The Tyvek suit is actually minimal in weight, however, we wear the largest size available across the board to allow for room while sealing the suits with chemtape - a stickier, chemical/water resistant type of duct tape,” said Cunningham.

The training was done in the ambulance bay next to the MDH Emergency Department.

“It was fun to see them suiting up for the first time. A lot of them didn’t really know where things (with the suit) were going to go. After the first group got suited up they were getting used to moving around and actually manipulating the cleaning of the mannequins we had. By the time the second group went through, they definitely picked it up a lot quicker,” said Cunningham. “For each one person you have decontaminating an individual, you have to have another one ready to go in (already suited up) after that person. Then you also need people not suited up helping people get suited up. So there has to be a lot of people involved in this to do it properly.”

Staff in hazmat suits