- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 14, 2006

The emergency entrance of D.C. General Hospital became a training ground yesterday for about two dozen doctors, nurses and area hospital administrators, who honed their preparedness skills for a disaster or a terrorist attack.

For most of the day, the doctors and nurses who came from hospitals in the D.C. area and Baltimore treated disaster “patients,” whose bodies were stained in red, black and blue paint to simulate wounds from explosions, shrapnel or exposure to poisonous chemicals.

Some patients “survived.” A few “died.”

And the medical personnel came away a little more prepared.

The training session is held once a month by the Washington Hospital Center, which has a Simulation and Training Environment Laboratory (SiTEL).

Dr. Yuri Millo, director of SiTEL, said the laboratory and its sessions help prepare doctors, nurses, hospital administrators and medical students to apply their medical knowledge in emergency situations.

“It’s a state of mind. One, you know what to do,” because of medical training, Dr. Millo said. The emergency training helps prepare the medical mind to analyze and work quickly. As result of that training, medics “have it in the back of their mind.”

During training, the doctors were dressed in gray plastic hats, jackets and pants, with clear plastic masks and oxygen masks over their faces. Instructors told them that when their duties were done, they were to take off their clothes and drop them in a contaminated area as they backed into a clean area and removed the masks.

Then came the patients.

Jason Wright, 28, who will graduate from Georgetown University in May, appeared to be the worst injured. His face was painted red and black. He pretended to suffer a brain injury. He was given a Coca Cola, which would foam and ooze out of his mouth.

“I was told I can’t breath,” Mr. Wright, of Orem, Utah, told The Washington Times, after he was treated by doctors. Mr. Wright “survived” his injuries.

Then, an ambulance brought TT Nguyen, 27, a senior at Georgetown to the emergency entrance. Like other patients, she was taken through a yellow decontamination tent.

As patients left the tent, they immediately were taken to a triage inside the hospital. There, doctors diagnosed the injuries and sent the patients to specific areas for treatment.

“We’ve got two reds and one yellow,” called out the triage manager, Christine Shamloo, 38, a nurse and instructor at Washington Hospital Center.

Her call meant that two patients were in critical condition and that one could wait for treatment. She called out “green” when a patient could walk.

“Black,” Mrs. Shamloo called out once. “You’re dead. You’re gone,” she told a patient.

The training session can attract as many as 50 medical personnel from across the country. The sessions are funded by the Washington Hospital Center. Participants pay the costs to attend the training.

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