North Iowa hospital holds hazmat drill


BRITT, Iowa – A group of medical professionals spent the day preparing for the worst. It’s a part of annual hazmat training, and the goal is to make it seem as realistic as possible.

“We’ve had a crop duster that sprayed a group of kids that were out at a farm. So, they got into their vehicles and rushed to the hospital,” drill organizer, Becky Finch explains the scenario.

The Britt Hospital is making sure they’re prepared, should a chemical outbreak happen. There are four different teams covering everything from security to triage.

“They’re making sure that our individuals are not getting cross contaminated, and that those individuals that are sicker are getting into the showers first,” Finch explains.

The drill even included actual decontamination showers the “victims” were sent through.

Emergency management officials say this kind of training is very important for hospital staff.

“We can see what we’re doing wrong in an environment where it doesn’t necessarily matter. Nobody is really going to get hurt. No one’s really going to get sick. So, then about the time that it actually does occur, you’ve had practice, you know what to do,” explains Andy Buffington, Emergency Management Coordinator for Hancock and Winnebago Counties.

Buffington is keeping an eye on the hospital staff and critiquing the procedures.

“Just step in and give that 10,000 foot view. Decide what’s going really well, and what needs a little bit of work,” adds Buffington.

“This isn’t something we do everyday, so it’s very important that our staff learns the different roles.They’re just not used to it. We have so much that we have to learn for the emergency room, and to work on the floor. For this, it’s something that gives them practice when we don’t have this happen all the time,” adds Finch.

Its practice that they hopefully won’t have to use, but will be prepared just in case.

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