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Emergency Preparedness

Thursday, Dec 12, 2013

In the aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attacks, hospitals across the country added a new dimension to their emergency preparedness training. Doylestown Hospital's expert provides insight into the changed landscape.

In the wake of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, hospitals faced a new threat for which they had to be prepared. "Hospitals recognized the need to have decontamination facilities," says Tom Smith, manager of the environment of care for Doylestown Hospital. He's in charge of everything from fire safety to proper decontamination of individuals exposed to hazardous materials, whether it comes from an industrial accident or possible terrorist threat. In fact, when the hospital's new Emergency Department was being designed, decontamination facilities were incorporated into the plans. Opened in 2010, the ED includes a special shower room with equipment to address hazmat incidents.

An in-house team of responders completes regular training sessions, drills and annual recertification. "Our role is to protect our staff and patients," says Tom. "We have in place a system of isolating and decontaminating patients, which is the first step of treatment."

As a member of the Hospital Association of Pennsylvania and the Delaware Valley Hospital Healthcare Council, Doylestown Hospital has mutual aid agreements in place with other area hospitals. The key is preparedness, which is fine tuned during drills. An example of a drill might include the scenario of a chemical attack in Philadelphia. Doylestown and other regional facilities exercise their response to the situation, and are in constant communication to deal with the possible influx of patients.

Tom knows his stuff! He has been a volunteer firefighter for 40 years, and serves as the safety officer for both the Willow Grove and Doylestown fire companies. He brings knowledge from extensive training to the hospital, always staying on top of the latest trends and developments. The landscape has changed in recent years, with new building materials and ever more chemicals in use.

In the end, the hospital, just like the fire companies, needs to be prepared to handle anything.

The Doylestown Hospital Emergency Department is staffed by certified emergency physicians, nurse practitioners and physician assistants, registered nurses and patient care technicians. With 39 private treatment areas, two critical care suites and a designated pediatric/minor acute care area, the ED is equipped to handle any emergency while offering patients and their families complete confidentiality and comfort. The ED was recognized with a Press Ganey Guardian of Excellence Award in 2013 for consistently high levels of patient satisfaction. Visit the Emergency Department of Doylestown Hospital for more information.

About Doylestown Health

Doylestown Health is a comprehensive system of inpatient, outpatient and community services connected to meet the health and wellness needs of all members of the community. Our independent and nonprofit system is dedicated to healthcare excellence from childbirth to end-of-life care.

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