POINT PLEASANT — This is only a test.
When those familiar words flash across the television or come up between selections on the radio, it can seem like an inconvenience for everyday citizens. But in the event of an actual emergency, rescue workers and disaster victims will reap the benefits from said tests, and on Tuesday morning, Pleasant Valley Hospital (PVH) and Mason County Office of Emergency Services employees performed such a drill to ensure and improve their preparedness.
A fake scenario was created involving a traffic accident and a spill of the chemical known as malathion and local volunteers portrayed the victims with various injuries and symptoms ranging in severity. The scenario read as follows:
On Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2012, at approximately 9 a.m., Mason County 911 calls Pleasant Valley Hospital’s Emergency Room and informs them that a tractor trailer carrying malathion has just hit a school bus on Route 35, just east of Henderson, W.Va. Also, a mini-van carrying four (4) elderly people has flipped over trying to avoid the wreck and is on its side in the west bound lane. Law enforcement unit on scene stated that the tanker has ruptured and a brown liquid is pouring out onto the ground.
According to Rex Troy, corporate safety officer for PVH, the main goal of the drill was to allow PVH employees to utilize their training for the new decontamination room in the hospital’s trauma center. When describing the scenario and the various other aspects that were being added, Troy said they wanted to overwhelm the system to see where the weaknesses were.
“If your drill goes well, there’s something wrong,” Troy said.
Troy continued, saying that PVH is required to do a mass causality drill as least once a year. During this drill, rescue workers transported the victims to the emergency room like they would in a real emergency, based on the severity of their injuries and which victims needed to be attended to first.
Portraying victims in the disaster were Brandon Edge, Brandon Troy, Ryan Bonecutter, Dakota Jeffers, Bruce McDermitt, Aden Yates, Brent Larck, Beverly Ridenour, Toni Scarberry, and Caroline Rhodes. The victims had various injuries and symptoms ranging in severity, including burns and shortness of breath, to chest trauma and fractures.
According to National Pesticide Information Center (NPIC), the chemical malathion, represented by chocolate syrup in the mock disaster, is an insecticide which kills insects by preventing the nervous system from functioning properly. If exposed to enough malathion, humans and other animals can be affected in the same way. Humans can be exposed if the chemical comes in contact with one’s skin or if it breathed in, or if one smokes, eats, or drinks after using a product with malathion and not washing your hands.
According to the NPIC, products that contain malathion are often used to control insects in agricultural settings and has also been used to control mosquitoes and fruit flies, as well as some shampoos used to treat head lice.