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This is an excerpt from a member-only article. To read the article in its entirety, please login or subscribe.

Guard your turf during community responses on-site

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June 1, 2009

February 12 started as a routine day in San Jose, CA, at the Santa Clara Valley Medical Center (SCVMC), a hospital with the region’s largest ED. But by the end of the day, 91 people had been decontaminated as the result of a chemical incident, including 37 hospital employees, 46 patients and visitors, four police officers, and four firefighters. The local fire department shut down the ED, raising questions about who should be in charge at a hospital during an emergency management response.
The events began when a teenager attempted suicide at his home using unknown chemicals. The chemicals contaminated the teenager’s residence and the hospital’s ED—all while Peggy Albert, BSN, MA, SCVMC’s emergency management coordinator, and other managers were at a retreat in another building on campus. A full-blown decontamination effort followed. (See “Chronology of a decontamination incident” below for a rundown of the events.)

February 12 started as a routine day in San Jose, CA, at the Santa Clara Valley Medical Center (SCVMC), a hospital with the region’s largest ED. But by the end of the day, 91 people had been decontaminated as the result of a chemical incident, including 37 hospital employees, 46 patients and visitors, four police officers, and four firefighters. The local fire department shut down the ED, raising questions about who should be in charge at a hospital during an emergency management response.



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