Indiana city debuts decontamination unit

If an event requiring hazardous materials decontamination occurs in the Youngstown, Indiana, area, a local decontamination unit is ready to respond.
The unit was formed a decade ago after an anthrax scare as a joint venture between the Mahoning County Emergency Management Agency and the St. Elizabeth Health Center. It has been used to train medical personal, which was the purpose of its visits Monday to the emergency departments of St. Elizabeth Health Center in Boardman and at St. Joseph Health Center in Warren, to provide orientation sessions for senior leadership at the hospital, reports.
Senior leaders are in command centers during emergencies and might not be familiar with decontamination units in the field, so they receive annual training with the units. The decontamination unit has only been used in one real situation, which occurred several years ago when approximately 30 Youngstown firefighters were exposed to petroleum products while fighting a fire. The unit responds to every call-out of the Mahoning County Emergency Management HAZMAT Response Team in case it is needed, according to
The unit consists of a trailer with equipment, including two inflatable decontamination tents and medical personal protective gear with breathing apparatus. The decontamination trailer and its original equipment was purchased with a $76,000 Federal Emergency Management Agency grant shortly after the 2001 anthrax scare.
John Hughes, the manager of St. Elizabeth Health Center's critical-care outreach program who conducted the orientation session, said that events that could trigger use of the contamination unit include crashes with spills and industrial accidents, reports.