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Hospital, county, city team up for disaster drill

POSTED: November 21, 2013 7:25 p.m.
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A “patient” as part of Effingham Hospital’s emergency preparedness drill gets examined.

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Effingham Health System conducted an emergency preparedness drill in collaboration with Effingham County EMS, the Effingham County Sheriff’s Office and the Springfield Fire Department. 

The drill simulated the traffic challenges and injuries that would result from an accident involving a passenger car and farm truck carrying anhydrous ammonia. 

Anhydrous ammonia is used as a fertilizer, and produces a pungent gas with suffocating fumes.  When combined with fluids present in the human body, rapid dehydration and severe burns can occur.  Other symptoms could include breathing difficulties, irritation of the eyes, nose or throat, and blisters on the skin. Exposure to high concentration levels can be fatal.

Injuries simulated in the drill included chemical burns, respiratory distress and contusions. Simulation victims included both passengers and first responders, and all were transported to Effingham Hospital’s emergency room in an effort to provide medical personnel with a good idea of what they could expect in the case of a real-life emergency.

Mike Murphy is the emergency management professional for Effingham Health System, and he was pleased with the results of the drill. 

"The hospital and the county entities have a comprehensive emergency operations plan in place, and we routinely test it with staged emergency response exercises," he said. "We are very fortunate to have an excellent working relationship with all of our community response agencies."           

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