Minden Medical Center staff escort an “injured” victim from a train derailment to a wash station to wash off any “chemicals” from exposure during a mock disaster drill Friday. Michelle Bates/Press-Herald

A train derailment occurs in the Plain Dealing area.

At least 13 injured are brought to Minden Medical Center for treatment of injuries related to hazardous material exposure. Four more walked to the hospital, totaling 17 injured.

Before they are allowed into the building, they must go through a wash station where medical staff wash them free of any hazardous chemicals on their person. Once dried off, they are taken into the emergency room for treatment of injuries.

This scenario could play out anywhere, but Minden Medical Center was proactive in conducting a disaster drill for the scenario aforementioned.

Hospital staff went “code yellow,” meaning disaster/mass casualties. Even though there were no casualties in this scenario, the hospital was prepared to take in as many patients as possible. The emergency room was lined with gurneys in which to place patients and assess the severity of each of the injured.

“They wash the patients and dry them off,” she said. “All emergency personnel were ready to assist in any way possible, and our staff is responding in our emergency room to the situation.”

Ashley Frye, infection preventionist at MMC, says the drill was for staff to find the deficiencies in the protocols used to handle situations such as these. Once the situation was declared clear, staff met for a debriefing to talk about what they learned, where their weaknesses are as well as their strengths.

Staff was also in constant contact with emergency services, such as police, fire, and EMS for updates on things such as the type of hazardous chemical, the number of injuries coming in and so forth.

MMC’s emergency room is equipped with 12 beds in which to treat minor and major or surgical emergencies. Through the drill, more beds can be wheeled down to accommodate the influx of additional patients. Spurlock says if needed, an additional triage area could be cordoned off to handle any overflow.

Students from Minden High School and Webster Junior High took part in the exercise, acting out various chemical exposure symptoms.

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