How Will Payson Respond To A Nuclear Explosion And Flooding?


The disaster training decontamination tent (left) and reservoir for contaminated solutions were tested and given a run-through before a mock disaster was performed at Payson Regional Medical Center.

The disaster training decontamination tent (left) and reservoir for contaminated solutions were tested and given a run-through before a mock disaster was performed at Payson Regional Medical Center. Photo by Andy Towle. |

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A 10 kiloton improvised nuclear device has exploded in downtown Phoenix. State emergency services are dealing with flooding from a tropical storm.

What would Payson do?

A collection of first responders and medical personnel will find out this week during a statewide exercise to test the skills of emergency personnel.

Personnel from Payson Regional Medical Center, Payson police and fire departments, Gila County Emergency Management, Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT) and possibly the Tonto Amateur Radio Association (TARA) will be participating in statewide disaster preparedness drill Friday, Nov. 4.

The Arizona Statewide/Vigilant Guard Exercise Thursday, Nov. 3 through Sunday, Nov. 6 involves the state’s emergency management system, county departments of emergency management, the National Guard and military transport units, federal agencies, local emergency responders, many hospitals around the state and some tribes, according to Kerry Cassens, director of infection control and employee health at PRMC.

Rim residents coming to the hospital between 9:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m., Friday, Nov. 4 — whether they are patients or visitors — should not worry about access, she said.

If anyone has difficulty with access, they should look for CERT volunteers (wearing special hats and vests) for assistance.

Cassens added there is not likely to be any impact to traffic in town, however, there might be more vehicles than usual at the hospital (participants will be using parking space away from the normal PRMC traffic areas).

“During the exercise, patient care and patient access to care remains a priority,” Cassens said.

As part of the drill, PRMC will create a command center and be testing several emergency response plans. Cassens said among these will be the plan for radiation incidents, a surge of patients, and patient decontamination.

She said the decontamination exercise will have two parts: the fire department will be testing its field decontamination unit and the hospital will be putting “volunteer victims” through its decontamination system, which involves erecting a special tent and other equipment and staff wearing special hazardous materials suits (think moon suits).

“The PRMC decontamination team is a mixture of health care professionals, volunteers and CERT members who have all been trained in patient decontamination procedures,” Cassens said.

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