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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Naval Hospital Beaufort Turns Up the Heat with Warm Zone Training

Navy News Service

Story Number: NNS111101-02

By Regena Kowitz, Naval Hospital Beaufort Public Affairs

BEAUFORT, S.C (NNS) -- Members of Naval Hospital Beaufort's decontamination (DECON) team participated in warm zone training Oct. 19-20.

The course is designed to offer U.S. Navy medical first receivers lifesaving skills to triage, initiate field treatment, decontaminate, and save victims of chemical, biological, radiological/nuclear, or hazardous materials contact.

The two-day evolution began with a full day of classroom training to introduce staff to potential contaminants terrorists may use and how to counteract them, ways to identify contaminants, and the roles that every team member would have during a DECON evolution.

The second day put the DECON team members to the test with a seven-hour day of hands-on training, including a final timed exercise. During the exercise, staff had to work as a team and apply all the lessons they learned the previous day to decontaminate mock casualties from a terrorist attack using a weapon of mass destruction.

"Having the ability to effectively decontaminate patients ensures Naval Hospital Beaufort can perform our overall mission during crisis situations," said Lt. Cmdr. Genaia Hill, head of the industrial hygiene department. "The training was very informative and the exercise really tested our teams' skills. The team did extremely well during the final exercise and I think they enjoyed the challenge."

Part of the practical application portion of the training including donning the personal protective equipment and setting up and operating the decontamination equipment. Team members were required to set up the DECON tent and stage triage bags, patient identification bags, sponges, and more.

"One of the most challenging aspects of the training was wearing the suits for the drill," said Ships Serviceman Second Class Kalie Liesenfeld. "The gloves get in the way, and the suits are very warm. But one of the most important things we learned was how to actually use the detection equipment to know what kind of agent we are up against. It's vital to help detect initial contamination and ensure that all contaminants have been washed from the patient."

Throughout the drill, team members were rotated through the various positions to ensure they were familiar with the different procedures that take place during decontamination. By cross-training the staff in the different areas and processes, Naval Hospital Beaufort leadership wants to ensure that even if all the team members aren't on hand during a real event, that those who are present can step in and adapt to whatever role they are required to fill.

"The training was very educational and will help prepare us for an actual event," said Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Ryan Roe. "If we constantly practice when an event actually happens we will know what to do and how to react, and that is what will save lives reacting to the situation in the proper manner and getting the job done."

The training was conducted by Brent Fenton of DECON, LLC, a company that provides similar training to several different military treatment facilities. The course is based upon the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Best Practices for Hospital-Based First Receivers Guidelines; and certifies students in all requirements for OSHA's Hazardous Waste Operations course to the "Operations" level.

According to Lt. Paul Gundy, "this warm zone training is exactly what our DECON Team needed. It gave us a chance to really fine tune our program and take our team to the next level. This training will be the building block for our in-house training in the months and years to come. Mr. Fenton gave us all the tools we need to succeed. Now it is up to us to make sure that we make this DECON team that best in the Navy."

Open since 1949, Naval Hospital Beaufort provides general medical, surgical, and emergency services to all active duty personnel, as well as retired military and family members residing in the Beaufort area, a total population of approximately 45,000 beneficiaries.

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