A multi-vehicle accident on Interstate 19 involving a semi truck hauling a hazardous material exposes innocent victims to dangerous fumes.
A train derails and explodes at the petroleum storage tanks near the Alvernon overpass injuring and contaminating hundreds of workers and bystanders who need urgent treatment.
A homemade bomb goes off at a busy shopping mall. Hundreds of people have wounds and need to be triaged immediately.
These are all possible life-or-death scenarios that could happen in Southern Arizona. If they, or something similar, were to happen, and the victims were brought to Tucson Medical Center, its Hospital Emergency Response Team (HERT) is ready.
Kimberly Romo and Cheryl Kohout from TMC’s communications team recently completed a week long training offered by the Center for Domestic Preparedness in Anniston, Alabama. The CDP is operated by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency and is the only federally chartered Weapons of Mass Destruction training facility in the nation.
Romo and Kohout trained at the Noble Training Facility, the nation’s only hospital dedicated to training health care professionals in disaster preparedness and response. They learned about incident management, mass casualty response, and emergency response to a catastrophic natural disaster or terrorist act.
Their training culminated at the CPD’s Chemical, Ordnance, Biological and Radiological Training Facility. The COBRA is the nation’s only facility featuring civilian training exercises in a true toxic environment using chemical agents. The advanced hands-on training enables responders to effectively prevent, respond to, and recover from real-world incidents involving acts of terrorism and other hazardous materials.
“I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to attend such rigorous training,” said Romo. “While my job primarily involves communications and media relations, I am thrilled to have had this experience and expand my skill set so that in a real-life mass casualty incident, I can suit up and triage or decontaminate victims, or respond to media requests for information – wherever I’m needed most.”
“I am honored to be a member of TMC’s HERT,” said Kohout. “The knowledge, critical skills and confidence I gained by going through this advanced training has prepared me to respond effectively to local incidents or potential WMD events, while ultimately protecting the hospital from contamination. I’ve worked at TMC for 16 years and am proud that our management invests in their employees while constantly striving to serve the community.”
The CDP develops and delivers advanced training for emergency response providers, emergency managers, and other government officials from state, local and tribal governments. In total, 15 TMC employees have received this training. “TMC’s all-volunteer HERT is committed to being ready to help Southern Arizonans during a tragic natural disaster or terrorist attack. In the post 9-11 world we live in, we know that we can never be too prepared. This team is constantly training to hone their skills and improve response time, and I am excited about the dedication and enthusiasm these two individuals bring to the team,” said Ted Voss, TMC HAZMAT team branch director.
Training at the CDP campus is federally funded at no cost to state, local and tribal emergency response professionals or their agency.