Specialized equipment and training prepare Mercy health for HAZMAT situations

Specialized equipment and training prepare Mercy health for HAZMAT situations
(Mercy Health St. Vincent has three zones in their decontamination process.)
(Mercy Health officials said all their hospitals are prepared for a hazmat situation, but they centralize the decon area to one hospital.)
(Mercy Health officials said all their hospitals are prepared for a hazmat situation, but they centralize the decon area to one hospital.)

TOLEDO, OH (WTOL) - Toledo saw two HAZMAT scenes in a matter of one week where police found a dangerous unknown drug.

More than two dozen people were decontaminated at one local hospital after the incidents, but how does the hospital stay safe?

Mercy Health St. Vincent Medical Center leaders said they are more than prepared for HAZMAT situations. They actually train multiple times a year for situations just like what we've seen recently.

It's a state of the art facility, specifically built for treatment of hazardous materials, including decontamination of HAZMAT situations.

"When we built the new emergency department, we were able to work in some very high tech, very specialized, purpose-built areas for the decontamination as we went forward," explained Mercy Health Chief of Police and Director of Emergency Management for Mercy Health Toledo Region, Peter D'Amore.

Mercy Health St. Vincent has three zones in their decontamination process.

First is the hot zone located outside a special separate entrance to the hospital.

Their patients take off decontaminated items. Next is a warm zone located inside a special sealed door where patients are thoroughly cleaned and washed.

The final stage of decontamination is in the cold zone, there a patient can get dressed and enter the hospital for treatment.

All three zones have specialized material, drains, vents, and even locks to avoid cross-contamination.

Mercy Health St. Vincent's decontamination team is made up of hospital personnel from different disciplines to handle anything that could happen throughout the process.

"I think it's very significant," explained D'Amore. "Like I said, these could be very limited events. It could be one person has an accident in the driveway and is covered in gasoline, all the way up to the larger mass decontamination, we should be ready for anything at any Mercy facility."

Mercy Health leaders said it's been years since their last large HAZMAT scene.

The past two will cost the hospital money for the cleaning of the decontamination process. They say because of their state of the art center and well-organized process no one else at the hospital was impacted.

They will debrief the two incidents with police and fire while also fine-tuning the process.

"We've definitely learned a lot in the last couple of weeks," explained Peter D'Amore, chief of police and director of emergency management for Mercy Health Toledo Region. "Obviously, those two bigger events opened our eyes. Every time we do this, we learn something new, we tweak our process and we try to make it run a little smoother."

Mercy Health officials said all their hospitals are prepared for a HAZMAT situation, but they centralize the decon area to one hospital.

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