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Valley first responders, medical personnel participate in Nov. 2 simulated mass-casualty decontamination exercise

HonorHealth, over 40 state, local and federal organizations join forces
By Terrance Thornton | Digital Free Press

Late last week, emergency personnel, first responders from across the Valley of the Sun and HonorHealth medical professionals gathered in north Phoenix to review, evaluate and critique the established standard operating procedures for when — and if — a mass-casualty decontamination event would happen here in the metropolitan area.

The Nov. 2 ‘Mass-Casualty Decontamination Incident Community Full-Scale Exercise’ simulated a spill of sulfuric acid in the loading dock, parking lot, and nearby plant areas at the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company in the West Valley.

In addition, HonorHealth officials say another tabletop exercise occurred where plans had to be devised to evacuate HonorHealth Sonoran Crossing Medical Center due to a plume of toxic gas coming from the initial leak.

“Evaluators were on-site to observe and document performance against established capability targets and critical tasks,” said Bill Baer, HonorHealth senior media relations Friday, Nov. 3. “The goal with each exercise we participate in is to take a significant step toward building stronger relationships, better preparing the state of Arizona, and safeguarding our community.”

Mr. Baer points out 40 local, state and federal organizations participated in the Nov. 2 simulated event.

“Arizona’s continuous growth, with the emergence of new companies and a steadily increasing population, necessitates our ongoing development. Exercises like this are critical in testing our capabilities as a community, and the relationships we build during them even more so,” he said. “This exercise provided an opportunity to assess our capabilities and address any gaps. Through continuous training, exercise, and evaluation, we can identify areas for improvement.”

Mr. Baer explains as the incident unfolded in simulated circumstances new challenges and solutions presented themselves providing critical feedback for Valley first-responders who participated in the exercise.

“The medical center [HonorHealth Sonoran Crossing Medical Center] begins receiving patients who arrive via privately owned vehicles,” Mr. Baer said of the onset of the simulation. “However, given the potential for a significant number of patients, it becomes necessary to transport patients to other medical facilities for triage, decontamination and the tracking of patients needed for family reunification.”

In addition to HonorHealth Sonoran Crossing, four other medical centers were involved in the simulation last week. They were:

  • HonorHealth Deer Valley,
  • HonorHealth John C. Lincoln,
  • HonorHealth Scottsdale Osborn and
  • BannerHealth Thunderbird.

Mr. Baer pointed out each of those facilities received 17-20 patients to ensure all patients receive the necessary care and the medical centers do not become overwhelmed.

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