Citrus Memorial Hospital
November 02, 2020

Pictured: Hazmat Tech Rick Hocking demonstrates the proper way to don PPE for a hazardous material incident.

INVERNESS, FL — Citrus Memorial Hospital recently conducted an exercise to retrain staff for hazmat situations. The annual drill tests the ability of staff to quickly and properly set up a decontamination tent, don and doff hazmat suits and decontaminate patients who have been exposed to any kind of hazardous material.

The exercise, conducted by the hospital’s Emergency Management team, walked staff members through the process of a hazardous materials emergency from 911 call to patient treatment.

Pictured: Hazmat Tech Rick Hocking plays the role of patient while Emergency Room Nurse Erin Thorensen practices decontamination.

“When we’re alerted that an incoming patient may have been exposed to a hazardous material, our plant operations crew rapidly assembles the decontamination tent,” said CMH Hazmat Tech Rick Hocking. “Then, a decontamination team dons gear and is ready for the patient who will go through the tent where they are rinsed and scrubbed before they enter the hospital for treatment.”

Personal Protective Equipment donned for a hazardous material incident includes gloves, a chemical resistant suit and boots, and a Positive Pressure Breathing Apparatus.

According to Hocking there’s limited dexterity in the suit, which is one of the reasons it’s important to drill in the gear frequently. The emergency management team also focuses on proper donning and doffing so caregivers remain safe.

Hazmat Tech Rick Hocking and Emergency Room Nurse Erin Thorensen doff their hazmat suits after the exercise.

“We’re preparing to deal with caustic agents,” he said. “It could be a chemical spill, oxidizers, or something corrosive. Basically, we need to be ready for any kind of hazardous material.”