Hazmat course held for medical providers

Tim Vangerud Senior consultant with Heartland Consulting Group of Bismarck presents part of the “Hospital First Receiver” course for staff of regional hospitals on Friday at the Trinity Riverside Education building. Photos provided by Trinity Hospital.

Regional hospital staff gathered in Minot last Friday to be updated and prepared to confront hazardous situations.

Heartland Consulting Group of Bismarck was at the Trinity Riverside education building, getting supervisors and medical staff from rural hospitals certified in handling hazardous materials and decontamination. The training is free to anyone interested in acquiring the certification, as the program is funded by grants through the state health department.

“It doesn’t cost them anything but their time to be here.” said Tim Vangerud, Heartland’s Senior Consultant. “This is an OSHA level training course so they can be decon supervisor at their own facility.”

Vangerud said that hospitals generally should have at least one certified supervisor for each shift, creating the need for rural providers to make sure their staff are ready in the event an exposure occurs. Staff from hospitals in Harvey, Bottineau, and Tioga received hands on experience with hazmat suits, equipment, procedures for patient decontamination. Trinity Emergency Preparedness Coordinator Kris Weber renewed her certification on Friday, said that the training ensures safety for all patients in a hospital.

“It’s invaluable. You never know when something’s going to happen. To have the training makes you that much more prepared.” Weber said. “You hope you never have to use it, but having some knowledge base so that if something was to happen, we are prepared.”

Course attendees get hands on, practicing the procedures for dressing and removing PPE during the hospital hazmat and decontamination operations course. Photos provided by Trinity Hospital.

Vangerud shared that Heartland has another program that helps rural facilities assess emergency plans, PPE supplies, and general readiness for situations involving anything from anhydrous to insecticide.

“Emergency planning is about protecting the majority of the people. I appreciate the people that come to the class, they’re attentive.” Vangerud said, “We’ve had some that have been here previous years. They end up soaking it up a little bit more because it’s an OSHA material.”

Attendee Dennis Legasse of St. Andrew’s Health Center in Bottineau said that rural hospitals don’t have many options to fall back on, should a hazmat situation arise, and that a number of his coworkers will be going through the training over the next two weeks.

“It helps us be prepared in case something happens. We’ve been doing this training for several years now, and every year helps us be better prepared.” Legasse said. “We know everybody in the community so if something happens, there’s a really good chance that who we’re working on is a family member or a friend. I just need to thank the health department for supplying the funds to put this on.”


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