Preparing for the unthinkable

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 12, 2011

By David Vitrano


LAPLACE – Government workers and hospital employees from St. John the Baptist, St. James and St. Charles parishes as well as nursing students from South Central Louisiana technical college and representatives from local industry donned hazmat suits and rubber boots as they participated in a mass decontamination drill at River Parishes Hospital Monday.

Maj. Leon Wright of the U.S. Army led the drill as well as the workshops that preceded the hands-on demonstration.

During the first part of the exercise, participants attended workshops where they learned how to do decontamination in the field, and how to use the relevant equipment. They were also briefed on different types of decontamination scenarios, such as those involving nuclear devices or oil or chemical spills and got the opportunity to familiarize themselves with all the equipment used in such situations.

The afternoon was spent learning through hands-on demonstrations as participants played the roles of both victim and aid worker. They also got a tour of the Region 3 mobile decontamination unit, which houses showers and the other materials necessary in a decontamination scenario.