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Hospital secures trailer for community emergencies

Bolingbrook – Adventist Bolingbrook Hospital recently received a 22-foot decontamination trailer that could be used in the event of a biological, chemical or radiological disaster. Purchased with federal funds, the $61,600 unit is basically a mobile shower facility designed to wash away contaminating agents.  

The trailer is parked outside the hospital’s emergency room. As many as 120 patients could go through the trailer in an hour. Here’s how it works: Up to three people enter the trailer, where they are met by emergency responders wearing special suits. The patients are given containers for their clothing and valuables. They then disrobe, shower under a specially formulated decontamination rinse and put on clean paper suits to exit the trailer.

“We hope we’ll never have to use this mobile decontamination trailer,” said Sue Smith, RN, director of outpatient/emergency services at Adventist Bolingbrook Hospital. “But we’re in the business of preparing for and responding to emergencies. We see this unit as a community asset and an integral part of our emergency preparedness plan.”

That plan includes training hospital staff and local firefighter/paramedics and other emergency responders on how to set up and mobilize the trailer.

The U.S. government set aside homeland security funds for disaster preparedness following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Grants are administered to emergency medical service regions by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services’ Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response.