UNMH uses CDP training during real-world incidents

The University of New Mexico Hospital (UNMH) recently put its training from the Center for Domestic Preparedness (CDP) to the test during multiple emergency situations.

UNMH sent approximately 50 hospital and university employees to CDP training during the past 12 months. The workers used their new skills when a peaceful demonstration turned violent and a helicopter mishap occurred on the roof of the hospital.

"Unfortunately, people don't tend to think about emergency preparedness until something happens," Byron Piatt, the emergency manager for UNMH, said. "The timing of our most recent training was incredible. We were very prepared for (these) incidents. Others have now seen the difference in levels of preparedness and confidence and are now extremely motivated to take advantage of the next opportunity."

While the incidents did not cause a surge of patient care at the hospital, the response did require the activation of UNM's Emergency Operations Center. Hospital staffers were on standby to care for injuries from the protest and the hospital was ready to take action during the helicopter mishap.

"The thorough CDP training helped prepare me and allowed me to have the mindset to function in a high-stress situation," Eugene Lujan, a hospital security officer, said. "The training helped assist the pilot to safety and helped save (the hospital from) a possible major structural fire."

Robert Perry, the manager of emergency preparedness for UNMH, said the courses taken at the CDP gave the hospital's personnel and leadership the tools they needed to support both incidents.

"This confidence allowed the (helicopter) incident to be managed efficiently and effectively," Perry said. "After hearing student experiences and seeing the practicality and utilization of the training the requests for more training has been overwhelming."

The Federal Emergency Management Agency's CDP is the only federally chartered WMD training center. The CDP is located in Anniston, Ala.