In June, an incident at the Edgewood area of Aberdeen Proving Ground called for a mutual HAZMAT response involving the U.S. Army, Harford County’s hazardous materials team, and University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Medical Center.

At a debrief following the incident, one of the recommendations was that the participating agencies should meet and show their capabilities to help in the process should a similar situation arise in the future.

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“We determined that we don’t know all of what each other does,” said Dennis Campbell, a HAZMAT instructor, emergency department nurse at Upper Chesapeake and member of the hospital’s Emergency Management Committee.

“We do train with the Army and with EMS for mass casualty drills but we never saw all their gear together and all their capabilities. So we decided after the debrief, hey let’s see what everybody has got and that’s part of how we got here today.”

On Thursday, representatives from Upper Chesapeake, Harford County HAZMAT, Aberdeen Proving Ground Fire Department and the U.S. Army were on hand at the hospital in Bel Air for an exhibition of the special training and procedures involved from the agencies in the event of an emergency.

The U.S. Army brought its special hazardous materials detection equipment among other items, Harford County HAZMAT displayed two response vehicles and other specialized equipment while APG Fire Department brought out their field decontamination gear and some other specialized equipment. The hospital set up its HAZMAT tent, triage tent and decontamination room for display and demonstrations.

“Everybody can walk through see all the stuff and how it works,” Campbell said. “We’ll have some of the hospital staff come down and walk through.”

Several stations were set up just outside the hospital’s emergency department as it would be during an incident. Representatives from the various agencies were on site at the stations to walk through the procedures and to answer any questions from hospital staff and others involved in the training exercise.

One of the stations in the demonstration was run by Carrie Dorsey, Chief of Occupational Health Group at Aberdeen Proving Ground.

Dorsey is part of the response team for a chemical accident in the laboratory at Kirk U.S. Army Health Clinic at Aberdeen Proving Ground. Her station focused on a type of blood test done if someone is believed to have been exposed to a nerve agent.

The procedure involves drawing a vial of blood from the patient to test for an enzyme that the nerve agent would attack in the body.

Another station was the hospital’s own decontamination tent which staff members demonstrated the proper technique and procedures for decontaminating a patient.

Harford County HAZMAT had their mobile Technical Decontamination Unit and walked those interested through the process inside as well as outside the unit.

Mike Brunicke, manager of Special Operations for Harford County Emergency Services and members of the Harford County HAZMAT team walked those interested through the process.

“The more we work together the more familiar we’ll be on the scene so to re-familiarize everyone with each others equipment.” Brunicke said. “Primarily this did come off of the after action meetings we had after the June incident, it was a great idea to do this and I can see us doing this again in the future.”

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