Plan for the worst, hope for the best. It's the idea that's at the heart of Avera McKennan's disaster training exercises. In May, employees had an active shooter drill on hospital grounds but what if there was a chemical spill in the community?
"When you have your suits on about your waist, have your partner help get the yellow boots slid on." ordered Kevin Schlosser, the emergency management coordinator at Avera McKennan hospital.
There's no need to panic, this is just a training exercise. The hospital staff, particularly the emergency department, is getting some in depth training to deal with chemical spills and other hazardous materials.
"(Spills) are certainly things that we have to take into account and we have to have people ready to respond to those situations." said Schlosser
Emergency drills and training sessions like this are done throughout the year. Whether it's prepping for a tornado, ice storm, or chemical spill, it ensures staff will be ready.
"If you are the one going on air make sure you put your purple gloves on now and then put on your green gloves." said Schlosser to the group of coworkers turned trainees.
"It's scenario-based but before we do the scenarios they lead us down the path of what happens and in what order, where everyone is supposed to be, what there place is going to be and what their role is going to be and I find that particularly helpful because I know exactly what I'm supposed to do now." said Brandon Marienau, one of the emergency room staffers going though the training.
You may not realize it, but hazardous materials are always around us.
"It's not just the vehicles going up and down the road or the railcars going up and down the rail; it's things that are used in industry, things that are used on farms things, that are used in day today household operations. If an event happens having people ready to again recognize that an event has happened and then treat the patients that seek medical care as a result of that chemical exposure." said Schlosser.
The idea of a large chemical spill might sound extreme but in December 2013, this train derailment and explosion forced the entire population of Cassleton, North Dakota to evacuate due to the flames and fumes. It's not just railroads, and chemical emergencies aren't always accidents.
"One of the lessons that we talked about today was the example last year in Boston the response to the marathon bombing, so having people ready to recognize and be able to respond to an event such as that." said Schlosser.
This Haz-Mat training goes hand in hand with the active shooter drill done last month at Avera Behavioral Health. While the real-life situations are unsettling, these drills should offer a comfort and an assurance that Avera is preparing for the worst so they can respond with the best.
"I have a lot more confidence after today's training that if something should happen I'm ready and the staff here at Avera McKennan is ready too." said Marienau.
"And we are being very proactive and how do we protect the patients, how do we protect our visitors, and above all how do we protect our staff." said Schlosser.
The emergency drills are also done in coordination with Sioux Falls Fire Rescue as well as the city and Minnehaha County Emergency Management services. For more information about emergency training just call 877-AT-AVERA.