2/13/2008 12:00 AM
A planning and operations course focused on the effects of weapons of mass destruction is under way this week at Huntsville Fire Station No. 1.
Employees in both the medical and public safety organizations are attending the course which started Tuesday and continues through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
“The title of the class is ‘WMD/EMS Planning and Operations Course,’ where the ‘WMD’ stands for weapons of mass destruction and ‘EMS’ stands for emergency medical services,” Texas Engineering Extension Service representative Kim Jones said. “What we basically do is teach the effects of weapons of mass destruction on human beings.
“The course covers how specific health care professionals operate and plan around events involving weapons of mass destruction.”
Employees and members of several public safety organizations will participate in the course, Jones said.
“Representatives from the Walker County Sheriff’s Department and the Huntsville-Walker County EMS will participate in the class, in addition to nurses and several public health officials from Houston,” Jones said. “We’ll also have various health care professionals from College Station, Katy, Spring and Conroe.
“This is a community collaboration that brings all of our employees to train together, something they’ll really need should an event involving a weapon of mass destruction take place.”
One of the most interesting parts of the course is a specific mannequin used to show the effects of weapons of mass destruction, Jones said.
“We have a $300,000 mannequin that does everything humans do when affected by weapons of mass destruction,” she said. “We’ll be able to teach the people taking the course how these weapons affect humans by demonstrating the signs and symptoms on the mannequin.
“By using the mannequin, members of the class will be able to recognize those symptoms and subsequently treat them.”
The mannequin used in the course operates using a computer which controls its vital signs, and tanks of the gases humans use to function are connected into the mannequin’s lungs.
“We have tanks of gas connected to the mannequin so we can gauge air mixes and the mannequin’s reactions to them,” Jones said. “The gases mix up just like they would in a human system, and that gives us a physiological response to monitor.”
Jones said information would be provided about the affects of weapons of mass destruction in the form of chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosive agents.
“In Tuesday’s class, for example, we let our students get used to working with the mannequin, then took them back to get a lecture about chemical weapons,” Jones said.
The class will be taught by a group from Texas A&M University’s Texas University Extension Services organization.
Jones said the course has been approved by the U.S. Office of Domestic Preparedness and Homeland Security.
Huntsville Memorial Hospital and the Huntsville Fire Department are sponsoring the course.