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Local hospitals train for disaster situations

Competition tests decontamination processes across the South Texas region

SAN ANTONIO – South Texas hospitals across the 26,000 square-mile region are competing in the Southwest Texas Regional Advisory Council (STRAC) “Decontamination Rodeo.”

The participating hospitals include Methodist Healthcare System, Brooke Army Medical Center, University Hospital and Uvalde Memorial Hospital. All hope to be crowned DECON Rodeo Champion.

“Everybody here has the same mission, and that’s to make sure they are prepared to receive patients in some sort of a mass decontamination events for the citizens of our region and San Antonio,” said Scott Hitchman, director of emergency preparedness and response for STRAC.

Although separated by miles, these hospitals are under the same response plan, making it easier for them to work together in case of emergency.

“If we have a mass decontamination event going on in Uvalde or Del Rio,” shared Hitchman, “we can take first receivers  from the urban centers or from other areas across the region and actually help augment the staff.”

Each hospital will be judged on a total of four events and a written test. Some of the hands-on challenges include setting up a shelter, working together to put on protective gear that includes an oxygen mask, as well as a radiological station.

Most participants have been working together for years in their respective hospitals, which according to them facilitates their communication tactics.

A trophy will be awarded to the team with the highest overall score.