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Naval Medical Center personnel learn proper decontamination techniques

By Cpl Nikki L. Morales | Marine Corps Installations East | June 1, 2018

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The staff at Naval Medical Center Camp Lejeune conducted decontamination training at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, May 24, to help ensure they are prepared to treat patients who have been exposed to chemical, biological or radiological contaminants.

The biannual training includes a decontamination process which protects the medical center and the patients within it from being exposed to any contaminant that may be on the clothes or body of the new patient, regardless of the threat level.

“If there’s a spill, chemical attack or terrorist attack and something is dispersed on the patients, they’re all going to rush to the hospital,” said hospital corpsman Petty Officer 1st Class Leonardo Benitez, assistant emergency manager, NMCCL. “Before they get into our medical facility, our job is to make sure that we completely decontaminate them and stop any contaminants from coming into the medical center.”

The Sailors within the class were learning the processes for the first time; the three-day course is intended to better prepare them for emergencies.

“The (decontamination) crew that comes here trains them from zero to the point where they could control access to the medical center using the materials we have on hand,” said Benitez. “This training is done every six months to train a new group and we do sustainment every month. For sustainment we grab as many people as we can and go over the procedures.”

The instructors ensure that the students understand every aspect of the procedure and that they’re confident in executing the process.

“The instructors have been very thorough,” said Petty Officer 3rd Class Kadeesha O’Connor, pharmacy technician, NMCCL. “You can tell they’ve been doing it for a while and they’re very passionate about it.”

Naval Medical Center Camp Lejeune is also prepared to assist and respond to a contamination crisis if it occurs in the surrounding community.

“One of the big things that the commanding officer here has done is to ensure that 100 percent of the Sailors here are Tactical Combat Casualty Care qualified – which is unheard of in a medical facility,” said Benitez. “Although this isn’t TCCC, it goes along with that kind of capability. He’s confident that if there is a big incident, either a chemical spill or actual attack, he has a team that’s here at the hospital that will ensure – before anyone comes in to get treated, they will be properly decontaminated – which will stop further casualties related to that contaminant.”
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