CLINTON, Md. (WUSA)--On this September 11th, a local hospital is memorializing the day by making sure its staff members are better prepared in the event of a major emergency.
Southern Maryland Hospital Center simulated both biological and natural disasters for the purpose of training.
In front of the hospital, an American flag flies at half staff. Inside, nursing student Stephanie Rand is trying on her first decontamination suit.
"It's to keep me safe when I'm helping patients that are contaminated," she said. "I want to help people. I really want to help people. I want to be there for any type of disaster."
Stephanie and other Southern Maryland Hospital Center staff are learning everything they need to know to protect themselves while caring for others in the event of a disaster, including a terrorist attack.
"The more you get comfortable with the materials and the different things that you have to use, the quicker and the easier you'll be able to help people," she said, speaking from inside the white suit.
"You're never going to know when they're going to happen, but you can always prepare and be ready for them when they do happen," said Dr. Eric McDonald, the Chief of Emergency Department.
Hospital workers learned to use a meter to detect radiation and hose down decontaminants.
"Very important because around here, we have a nuclear power plant just down the road from us. So we're always on the lookout for radioactive patients and this is just to have the staff a little more familiar with how to do it," said Casey Scott, the Chair of the Emergency Preparedness Committee.
This disaster readiness drill comes just as a new Government Accountability Office report reveals that four out of five high-risk hospitals nationwide have failed to secure radiological material that could be used in dirty bombs.
"I know that our hospital, we do a very good job of securing that material. We're very close to Andrews Air Force Base, so we take emergency preparedness very seriously," said Dr. McDonald.
"We're very careful about radioactive material because of where we are geographically. We don't want any of our materials to get out ad cause any problems," said Casey.
Today, it's a drill, but next time, it may not be.
Written by Andrea McCarren
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