VA Medical Center employees receive emergency response training at FEMA's CDP

The Federal Emergency Management Agency said on Thursday that 39 Veterans Health Administration employees attended emergency medical response training at the Center for Domestic Preparedness.

"This training provides a great opportunity for our VA staffs who have never experienced a disaster," Tim Turner, a Veterans Health Administration Office of Emergency Management area emergency manager, said. "Disaster response is about planning and training like this focuses on that concept and opens discussion about critical decision making skills."

The attendees represented 22 VA medical centers from 14 states. The week-long training took place in the Noble Training Facility, which is the nation's only hospital dedicated to mass casualty response training.

"Having the ability to conduct medical training in an actual hospital was surprising. We don't see a facility like this often," Vince Vernacchio, a Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center assistant nurse manager of ambulatory care, said. "I think that having the state-of-the art patient simulators as well as the live role players helped bring the emergency to life and allowed trainees to have a close to real-world experience. We are very fortunate to have a training location like this to learn."

During training, students experienced a simulated mass-casualty event, and were required to activate the command center and provide medical response.

"We never know when something is going to happen," Iris Bryan, a licensed practical nurse, said. "Most people don't realize other responsibilities the VA has during a disaster. We have knowledgeable staff who can be put to good use taking care of the population, supporting our state and local agencies."