Air Force simulates chemical agent attack

The Air Force's 95th Medical Group’s In-Place Patient Decontamination Team recently took part in a three day training exercise at Edwards Air Force Base in California in which simulated chemical agents needed to be scrubbed off of dummies and healthy volunteers.

The course, which took place between March 15 and March 17, consisted of hands-on and classroom training, including classroom discussion on types of chemical warfare agents, symptoms and signs of contaminated patients and the potential complications that could occur.

"The whole purpose of this (training) is that if a patient presents himself as contaminated and gets inside the clinic, that contaminated patient can contaminate the entire clinic and shut down operations," Tom Bocek, the contract training manager and instructor for the workshop, said. "This in-place patient decon team can be thought of as the medical shield for the medical operations so that patients can be cleaned and the medical personnel can do what they really want to do, and that is save the patient."

The hands-on training consisted of assembling a shelter, a containment system to collect waste-water run-off along with a hydrant system, and practicing how to process patients using a dummy and an Airman volunteer. One of the procedures covered the proper administration of atropine, which is an antidote to nerve agent poisoning.

"We learned life-saving skills to decontaminate and save victims of chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear or hazardous materials," Master Sgt. Valerie Vasquez, the 95th Medical Support Squadron alternate decon team chief, said. "It not only protects the victims but the medical personnel treating them as well. I'm confident that this team can now perform decon if put in the situation where it was needed."

The training for the team occurs once every quarter.