UW Hospital Completes Unique Disaster Drill

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MADISON - University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics successfully participated in the largest-ever mass casualty drill in Wisconsin history.
About 170 members of the 415th Chemical Brigade of the U.S. Army Reserve were in Madison on Saturday, June 20, for Operation Red Dragon, a field-training exercise that marks the first time that the Chemical Brigade from Greenville, South Carolina, has drilled with civilian response units and with an urban hospital network.

UW Hospital hosted the Madison portion of Operation Red Dragon and used its state-of-the-art decontamination facility for a mock chemical attack. Members of the 415th Chemical Bridge played "victims" to test the speed and thoroughness of decontamination in a mass casualty situation.
The "victims" were covered in a simulated biologic contaminant, including glow gel. After decontamination, a special light that illuminates the remaining glow gel was used to assess the contamination level of each victim. A 20-person decontamination platoon worked with hospital staff on proper decontamination procedures.

The goals of the training exercise is to test the communication and cooperation between the military and hospitals in the event of large-scale incidents and to see how well UW Hospital staff can handle a large volume of patients in the decontamination facility.

Federal officials who participated in the event said that the experience was mutually beneficial and allowed for better preparation and training for all organizations involved both at the local and federal levels.

UW Hospital's decontamination facility was designed by Dr. Tracy Buchman, hospital safety director, and is the first automated, fixed patient decontamination unit in the country that can handle large patient volume.

"The drill not only tested communications and cooperation between the hospital and the military. We are using the drill to research the length of time needed for adequate chemical decontamination," said Buchman.

Operation Red Dragon held similar field-training exercises in Milwaukee, Oconomowoc and La Crosse. A total of 2,500 members of the 415th Chemical Brigade were stationed at Fort McCoy during the Wisconsin exercises.

Date Published: 06/23/2009

News tag(s):  emergency

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