fficials with MedicOne Medical Response conduct treatment training on a human patient simulator at Thursday's CBRNE training held Thursday at Unicoi County High School. Training will continue today at the high school. (Brad Hicks/Johnson City Press)
ERWIN — Area first responders will agree that in the event of an emergency affecting the community at large, it is critical to have all the responding agencies on the same page.
On Thursday, local emergency personnel began training to ensure this. Officials with MedicOne Medical Response, Unicoi County’s ambulance services provider; the county Sheriff’s Department; Nuclear Fuel Services; Mountain States Health Alliance; the South Side Volunteer Fire Department; and Unicoi Volunteer Fire Department gathered at Unicoi County High School for training on how to recognize the threat of and treat chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosive events.
“It focuses to teach first responders to recognize early signs of nerve agents or biological attacks,” said MedicOne Public Information Officer and 2nd Lt. Stacy Wigand. “As first responders, we’re obviously going to be the first ones to notice it and, if we don’t catch it early on or we don’t have that education, there’s a change that exposure could maximize throughout the rest of the community.”
The training, sponsored by MedicOne, was given by the Texas Engineering Extension Service, a division of Texas A&M University. Those completing the two-day course will be able to properly perform patient triage, decontamination, treatment and transportation in the event of exposure to chemical or other weapons.
“We’re a member of the National Domestic Preparedness Consortium, and the goal is to train all emergency responders to respond to any emergency in the whole community so that they are trained and prepared to respond to another incident when it happens, especially if it involves CBRNE, and that’s what our focus is on at this point,” service Training Specialist Pearline Howald said.
MedicOne EMS Supervisor Debbie Tipton said she coordinated the class after previously having attending a TEES course held in Morristown. Tipton said said felt like the county’s community of emergency responders could benefit from a similar course.
This is the first time such a training course has been held in the county.
“One of the reasons we picked Unicoi is we have Nuclear Fuels, we have the railroad turnaround and we have so much exposure that people don’t even realize that comes through our county,” Tipton said.
Local first responders will continue the training today at the high school.