Decontamination Exercise
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Tyrone Regional Health Network conducted a decontamination exercise Friday with the help of students from Tyrone Area High School who said the drill almost felt real. "It does give a sense of realism because all of our other drills have just been stay in the classroom and just wait until everybody's done," said Michael Stoner, a senior at Tyrone Area High School. "This was, we actually came out here, you had to walk through water like you have tear gas on you," said Lucia Isenberg, a junior. "It's not just a fire drill or like when someone's hurt and they have to bring an ambulance so they lock down the school. It's real. This is the world we live in today." The decontamination drill is part of a county wide preparedness training. The scenario involved responding to a release of tear gas. "They're running a full-scale exercise here today basically testing what would happen if there was a chemical episode somewhere," said Mark Taylor the director of public safety for Blair County. "Today they used a school." "It was just to see how the hospital could prepare and react if a situation like the tear gas ever happened to our school and to see if they could handle the mass amount of students our school would send out," Stoner said. Taylor said the tear gas would get into clothing very quickly. During the simulation, dozens of students exited the school and made their way to the parking lot where fire hoses sprayed them down. "They set up gross decontamination with the fire departments," Taylor said. "Essentially getting that first bunch of chemicals off the people that they are no longer contaminated." Multiple students were also sent to a nearby hospital, where staff quickly ushered them outside to prevent further contamination. "The staff knows not to let them in any further so it doesn't contaminate the hospital," Taylor said. "They come out and they do a decontamination tent, get everything set up and actually take those two students back out and run them through decontamination so they are clean and can go back in and be treated." Students said this type of event could happen when least expected.