The State of Tennessee is taking steps to ensure hundreds of healthcare workers are well-prepared for the proper donning and doffing of Personal Protective Equipment, or PPE, in case of a serious disease outbreak. And they have called on the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service (TEEX) to provide the training. Ten courses will be offered across the state during a two-week period in June, starting in Johnson City and ending in Memphis.
TEEX began delivering Personal Protective Measures for Biological Events in December. The 8-hour course is offered at no charge to emergency responders, healthcare workers or any personnel who might come in contact with a potentially dangerous biological agent, such as a virus, pathogen, toxin or contaminant.
During the training, personnel learn to identify general characteristics of viruses as well as gain hands-on practice in proper donning and doffing PPE Level C suits in accordance with the standards issued by OSHA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They also learn to perform technical decontamination.
“We’ve partnered with TEEX and held dozens of courses over the past five years,” said Robert Newsad, State Hospital Preparedness Coordinator with the Tennessee Department of Health, who attended the TEEX course in March. “This course is something that’s really valuable for us in hospital and medical provider preparedness. It will complement our ongoing training efforts for the healthcare personnel on the front lines if we have a highly infectious disease outbreak such as Ebola.”
TEEX Program Director Vince Slominski added: “We can see from the first events of Ebola in our country that personnel needed more training in PPE and how mistakes in donning and doffing can lead to exposure to a potentially fatal disease. Knowing the proper process can save a responder’s life and prevent further exposure to others in the public.”
TEEX offers the training in numerous states through its National Emergency Response and Rescue Training Center. The instructional team in Tennessee will be led by Billy Rhoads and includes Mark Buck, Warren Vaughn and Dennis Zimmerman.
“It’s a quality course, and TEEX does a great job incorporating adult learning principles and hands-on experience into its training,” Newsad said. “Through our partnership with TEEX, we will offer the course in June across the state at eight different locations, and we expect to train 200 to 300 healthcare and EMS personnel.”
The course, which was developed by DHS/FEMA’s Center for Domestic Preparedness (CDP), is being offered nationwide by members of the National Domestic Preparedness Consortium. The course is funded through the DHS/FEMA’s National Training and Education Division as part of the Homeland Security National Training Program.