Local Emergency Management Staff and Regional Hospitals Test Response to Mock Hazardous Train Derailment in Rockville

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Press Release:

The Montgomery County Office of Emergency Management and Homeland Security, and ten hospitals from Calvert, Charles, Montgomery, Prince George’s and St. Mary’s Counties are better prepared for an all hazards incident following parallel mock exercises today – developed, conducted and evaluated by the University of Maryland Center for Health and Homeland Security (CHHS).

The scenario, a train derailment in suburban Rockville, Maryland, is just one type of event that can affect jurisdictions as a whole, and public and private entities within them. Having plans to deal with such emergencies is critical, but of equal importance is training for and simulating real-world-like exercises to test the capabilities of staff and the effect on personnel, equipment and infrastructure. While the goal of Montgomery County’s functional exercise was to test response capabilities within the county, the hospital exercise was a regional coordination effort to test medical surge plans during a mass casualty event.

At Shady Grove Adventist Medical Campus (which includes Adventist Behavioral Health, Adventist Rehabilitation Hospital of Maryland, Shady Grove Adventist Hospital, Germantown Emergency Center), mock events started at nine a.m. with the announcement by the Maryland Institute for Emergency Medical Services Systems that a train carrying hazardous materials had derailed, and could present an influx of patients to hospitals in Region V. Throughout the exercise, staff at Shady Grove assessed the need for a decontamination area, practiced treating inflatable patients in their Emergency Department, and even addressed an active shooter scenario on the medical campus.

“Maryland has had their fair share of train derailments, including a very similar scenario last month in Rosedale – which happened after the topic for this drill was determined,” said CHHS Acting Exercise and Training Program Manager Laura Hoch. “We can’t stress enough, while weather related incidents are most commonly planned for and exercised, hospitals and emergency responders need to know their roles in protecting the public following a variety of potential all hazards disasters. “

Exercise, evaluation and training staff at CHHS, who handled all aspects of today’s exercise from addressing areas of training needed by each individual facility to conducting follow-up evaluations that will identify gaps to be addressed prior to an actual emergency, has extensive experience in providing this service. Past clients have included local governments across Maryland and the State’s Emergency Management Agency, as well as colleges, hospitals, and the D.C Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency.

CHHS also offers planning services in continuity of operations, critical infrastructure protection, interoperability, mass evacuation and sheltering, and resource management. Numerous public health organizations have also sought out CHHS expertise on issues such as medical surge planning, legal issues surrounding public health emergencies, and hospital preparedness and response.

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