Rainy Lake Medical Center staff took another step toward disaster preparedness Thursday during a decontamination training event.
The mock event was in preparation for RLMC staff to attend an all-day exercise set for Aug. 26, known as “Operation Walleye.”
“Operation Walleye” is a training event that aims to help local first responders and key stakeholders prepare for a potential hazardous materials incident in the Koochiching County and Rainy River region.
The training is designed to target improvements in local first response organization including RLMC, the fire department, law enforcement, EMS services along with city, county and state government.
The RLMC team this week donned full personal protective equipment, and staff ran the drill as if it were a real event, complete with mock victims.
“We have training every year, separate classes: review plan, video watch, PPE training and then shelter set up,” said Margaret Hyatt, RLMC Director of Environmental Services and Facilities Regulation. “But, this has been the first time that all of the steps have been all put together.”
In addition, Margaret said the team has new members and the training helps the team understand the decontamination process better.
The team includes staff from RLMC’s environmental services, laboratory, clinic, plant, therapy and wellness, IT and infection control.
“We also had hospital nursing, emergency room, ward clerk and marketing out there along with us (on Thursday),” Margaret said.
The training featured one ambulatory patient, meaning the patient could walk, and one non-ambulatory patient. The ambulatory patient was able to decontaminate themselves and the non-ambulatory was decontaminated by two members.
The patients began in the hot zone (dirty) outside of shelter, stepped into the warm zone (inside of shelter) to clean off and then out the other side of the shelter into the cold zone. Margaret said once the patient steps out into the cold zone, they will be swept away to the emergency department.
While Thursday’s exercise ran through the steps of decontamination, it also instilled the value of team work.
“We are not departments out there,” Margaret said. “We are a team working together for the betterment of the patients.”