Perry County First Responders and Hospital Hold Hazmat Drill

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By Janna Kennedy
By Randy Livingston

DU QUOIN-- A Perry County hospital is teaming with first responders to practice handling a hazardous materials emergency

Staff at Marshall Browning in Du Quoin spent Thursday in a disaster drill. They worked hand in hand with emergency crews on a simulated chemical spill.

The drill is designed to teach hospital staff and Perry County first responders how to deal with a chemical spill.

"A lot of times you get people from the community to come in to your hospital exposed to something that could potentially hurt the people here that we staff, " says Lisa Smith, Director of Pulmonary and Cardio Services at Marshall Browning Hospital.

Smith helped organize the drill. She says staff need to always be ready for chemical spills because they can happen anytime.

The spills are all too familiar for Perry County Emergency Management Coordinator, David Searby.

"We've had several incidents in our county for what you can say may be minor exposures but today we're showing where there may be more substantial exposure," said Searby.

In 2003, a freight train carry hazardous materials derailed in Tamaroa, which forced hundreds of people to evacuate their homes.

The mock victims in Thursday's drill were all exposed to chlorine while the chemical was being mixed into a pool. Each victim had different side effects included shortness of breath and burns to their skin and eyes. Luckily, the victims were just volunteers.

More than three dozen people participated in Thursday's drill. Perry County Emergency Management holds a Hazmat drill at least once a year. This is the first time they've worked with Marshall Browning Hospital.
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