Anniston, Ala., Feb. 1, 2012 -- FEMA Chief of Staff Jason McNamara (Left) observes Robi Mobley, Human Patient Simulator (HPS) specialist, administer medication to an HPS commonly used in healthcare training at the Center for Domestic Preparedness (CDP). FEMA/Derek Jensen
One of the challenges we often face in preparing for disasters is providing training that matches the realism of an actual event. I observed training Wednesday in a newly-renovated FEMA facility that is about as realistic as it gets without actually going through a terrorist attack or natural disaster. The training scenario was the first exercise held inside the newly remodeled Noble Training Facility Emergency Department at the Center for Domestic Preparedness (CDP). Located in Anniston, Ala., the CDP's Noble Training Facility is the only hospital facility in the nation dedicated solely to preparing the healthcare, public health, and environmental health communities for mass casualty events related to terrorism or natural disasters.
After a ribbon cutting ceremony I observed the first training exercise in the newly renovated Emergency Department, where doctors, nurses, hospital administrators and others were forced to deal with patient surges, contamination issues, the flow of patients and the management of resources. The training scenario was chaotic, noisy and stressful and very reminiscent of the potential scene at a hospital following a real disaster.
It's also the kind of training that will benefit communities all over the country. CDP has provided this unique hospital training to our nations’ emergency receivers since 2007. Prior to the remodeling project, CDP had been running training scenarios out of a small Emergency Department that hadn’t been updated since it was built in the 1970s.
The new enhancements unveiled yesterday included an expanded trauma bay, state -of-the-art treatment area, new ambulance entrance, isolation rooms for contaminated patients, computer-generated sound and visual effects, video recording capabilities, and hi-tech patient simulators that breath, bleed, talk, respond to treatment and do everything but walk away. The new enhancements mean an expanded capability at the CDP and a chance for local, state and tribal personnel from across the country to avail themselves of federally funded training in a modern hospital venue. And most importantly, our nation’s emergency receivers now have a place where they can prepare their own communities for acts of terrorism and natural disasters in an environment that’s hopefully as close to the real thing as they’ll ever have to deal with.
Anniston, Ala., Feb. 1, 2012 -- Students attending the Healthcare Leadership for Mass Casualty Incidents (HCL) course treat a simulated explosion survivor during the first exercise following the opening of the new emergency department at the Center for Domestic Preparedness. FEMA/Derek Jensen
Anniston, Ala., Feb. 1, 2012 -- FEMA Chief of Staff Jason McNamara (Left) and Center for Domestic Preparedness Superintendent Dr. Christopher T. Jones cut the ribbon opening the renovated emergency department inside the Noble Training Facility (NTF). FEMA/Derek Jensen