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JCHC Employees Attend Homeland Security Training

JCHC Employees Attend Homeland Security Training

FAIRBURY – Jefferson Community Health Center’s Judd Stewart, Emergency Preparedness Director and Marci Gillham, Hospital Emergency Response Team Member, recently completed training offered by the Center for Domestic Preparedness (CDP), in Anniston, Ala. The CDP is operated by the United States Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency and is the only federally chartered Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) training facility in the nation.

Stewart and Gillham attended a class on Hospital Emergency Response to Mass Casualty Incidents (HERT).   The HERT course is designed to prepare hospitals to conduct safe and effective emergency medical response to a mass casualty incident. This class addressed healthcare response at the operations level for a healthcare facility and its personnel including personal protective equipment selection and use, setting up an emergency treatment area, simple triage procedures, methods of decontaminating victims who were involved in a catastrophic natural disaster or terrorist act, and putting it all to use in a mock mass casualty incident.

“This was a great learning experience and we plan on bringing the lessons learned back to our facility to help improve our response team’s knowledge and capabilities,” Stewart said. “Our response team is composed of nurses, radiologists, IT personnel, business office employees and people from other areas within our facility. When it comes to a hospital’s decontamination team, everyone will be involved, not just those directly related to healthcare.

As a hospit2016110195105100al, we need to include everyone —  like housekeeping, administrative staff and even nutritionists when they form response teams—we all have a role.”

Stewart said the training gave him a new perspective on how a mass casualty event would need to be handled.

“This training has really changed my view of what needs to happen on the other end of these type of events.  Having been trained through our fire department on the first responder’s roles in haz-mat events, it’s a whole different ball game when you are now the first receiver of contaminated patients.  There are so many steps that need to be taken to ensure the safety of the hospital and its staff while effectively treating the patients,” Stewart said.

7962Gillham, who is a radiology department staff member and a member of the JCHC decontamination team, described the training as an “intense and amazing experience.”

“We learned so many new ideas and ways of handling situations, as first receivers in the hospital setting,” Gillham said. “The hands on, full scale exercise brought everything we learned in the classroom to life. It definitely was a great refresher course for things we already knew, and it also brought a lot of new ideas and things to think about in the future for our own decon team.  We look forward to sharing, discussing and implementing some of the things we learned.”

The CDP develops and delivers advanced training for emergency response providers, emergency managers, and other government officials from state, local, and tribal governments. The CDP offers more than 40 training courses focusing on incident management, mass casualty response, and emergency response to a catastrophic natural disaster or terrorist act. Training at the CDP campus is federally funded at no cost to state, local, and tribal emergency response professionals or their agency.

Training at the CDP includes healthcare and public health courses at the Noble Training Facility, the nation’s only hospital dedicated to training healthcare professionals in disaster preparedness and response.

A number of resident training courses culminate at the CDP’s Chemical, Ordnance, Biological and Radiological (COBRA) 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.

Responders participating in CDP training gain critical skills and confidence to respond effectively to local incidents or potential WMD events.

Information about CDP training programs can be found at or by contacting the CDP External Affairs Office, at (256) 847-2212/2316 or e-mail