Staff mitigate storm and smoke

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On Memorial Day, Tri-County Health Care staff responded to a fire at a nearby irrigation facility and severe weather. Staff was warned of the fire and the possibility of chemical gas approaching the hospital. Additionally, a storm producing high winds and the possibility of tornados had the potential to affect the City of Wadena. Staff members mitigate situations like this in a specific way, and Tri-County staff regularly participate in scenarios like this one.

Taking appropriate action

EMS staff departed to assist with the nearby fire. Initially, they began fire rehab, a procedure where EMS supports firefighters by providing first aid, hydration, and a cool place to recover. The storm hit, which prompted EMS staff to take cover. At the Wadena Hospital, staff initiated incident command operations. Members of the administration, EMS, and medical staff evacuated patients to safe areas within the facility. Tri-County completed this task without issue.

Due to the threat of chemical gas entering the facility, maintenance and the engineer on call quickly disabled the ventilation system to stop the potential spread of gas. This process was completed without incident, and all observations indicate that chemical-laced gas did not enter the facility.

The scope of a crisis

“You couldn’t write a scenario like this,” remarked Emergency Management Coordinator Tom Krueger. Krueger is responsible for the mobilization of incident command at Tri-County Health Care. He’s also responsible for training staff to handle scenarios like severe weather and structure fires. Leading up to the storm, Krueger provided detailed information on its movement. His team was instrumental in facilitating evacuation during the crisis.

“Everyone did a fantastic job and everything went according to plan even with the mounting problems in the region” – Thomas Krueger.

After the storm passed, staff received an all-clear message. Evacuation orders lifted, and patients returned to their rooms. Once the threat of gas passed, the ventilation system reactivated, and normal operations resumed. Staff mitigate all-hazards scenarios based on many factors, many of which were present in this crisis. Please visit TCHC.org and our social media accounts for regular updates.