Wisconsin hospital to simulate biological attack

Two Wisconsin hospitals will conduct a June emergency drill to test their level of readiness to conduct major decontaminations in the event of a biological disaster, such as a terrorist attack.

The Oconomowoc and Waukesha memorial hospitals are currently preparing for a homeland defense training operation called Red Dragon 2011, which will test the coordination between Wisconsin-area hospitals and the U.S. military, according to LivingLakeCountry.com.

Military personnel intend to test a wide variety of their emergency equipment, including decontamination tents and sprayers that they will use to treat volunteer victims. They will also practice decontaminating vehicles on-site.

"People get nervous when they see military vehicles driving around and soldiers in uniform," Doug Birlingmair, an emergency preparedness and hazardous material specialist, said, according to LivingLakeCountry.com. "We will let neighbors know it is an exercise."

The exercise is expected to involve at least 185 members of the U.S. Army Reserve and dozens of hospital workers.

The two hospitals are required to conduct emergency drills twice a year as part of an accreditation process, with one simulating a lack of available community resources. The results of the exercises shape the hospitals’ future protocols and procedures.

Red Dragon 2011 is the first time in two years that the military has trained with civilian health care operators in Southeastern Wisconsin.

This year’s drill, according to Birlingmair, will include the use of biological integrated detection systems. BIDS give the participants the ability to detect and analyze the presence of threatening contaminants in the air.