Men and women in medical hazmat suits may be seen today around town, but stay calm. It’s just a drill.
The Northeast Texas Regional Advisory Council’s Northeast Texas Emergency Management and Healthcare Conference is in town and as part of its activities will hold a contagion drill at Paris Regional Medical Center’s South Campus.
In the wake of last October’s first-ever outbreak of Ebola on American soil, at Dallas Presbyterian Hospital, which resulted in the death of one man, hospitals across the nation have stepped back and taken a look at their contagion protocols.
PRMC held a contagion drill of its own shortly after a women presented herself at the North Campus ER claiming she may have been exposed to the deadly disease. Her claim proved to be in false, much to the relief of scores of healthcare professionals and city leaders in Paris, but the test revealed areas where hospital officials felt they could do better.
PRMC put its money where its patient care is and came up with a plan — and the funding, in excess of $70,000 — to refit the unused ER at the hospital’s south campus for use if the threat of a lethal contagion ever rears its head in Paris again.
When NETRAC, a group of healthcare, emergency management, community preparedness and public works professionals, chose Paris to hold its conference, it joined with the city of Paris and the Ark-Tex Council of Governments to sponsor a field exercise to test the new protocols.
At 3 p.m. today, the exercise will begin at the civic center, when two volunteers will feign an exposure to the deadly disease. Paris EMS is to respond and, per PRMC’s new plan, will be taken to the South Campus for evaluation, processing and “treatment.” A group of hospital officials, city leaders and the media will observe as a team of doctors and nurses trained in contagion prevention deal with the “emergency.”
Full personal protection equipment will be used, as well as the new, stricter contagion restrictions.