The University of New Mexico Hospital (UNMH) has sent nearly 50 hospital and university employees to CDP training in the last 12 months. Recently, many of those workers put the skills they learned to use when a peaceful demonstration turned violent and a helicopter mishap occurred on the hospital’s roof.

“Unfortunately, people don't tend to think about emergency preparedness until something happens,” said Byron Piatt, UNMH Emergency Manager. “The timing of our most recent training was incredible. We were very prepared for [these] incidents. Others have now seen the difference in levels of preparedness and confidence and are now extremely motivated to take advantage of the next opportunity.”

During the incidents the hospital, fortunately, did not see a surge in patient care; however, the response did require the activation of UNM’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC). Other hospital staffers were on standby to care for anyone injured as a result of the violent protest. Then, when a helicopter mishap occurred during takeoff from the hospital roof, the hospital staff went into action for emergency patient care and command center activation.

“The thorough CDP training helped prepare me and allowed me to have the mindset to function in a high-stress situation,” said Eugene Lujan, hospital security officer. “The training helped assist the pilot to safety and helped save [the hospital from] a possible major structural fire.”

“CDP training is effective because it puts you through the paces as if you were responding to a real emergency,” said Dianne Anderson, UNM Director of Communication. “You have to react in real time and to situations that simulate real life, so when you get into an actual emergency, you know what to do. It becomes second nature.”

The UNM Hospital staffers have attended multiple healthcare courses that focus on hospital leadership and management and response to a mass casualty incident. Other staff members have completed training in a toxic environment—responding to realistic scenarios using nerve agents and biological materials. University workers have trained as well in operations and communications.

"The training we received was utilized both during the protests and the helicopter accident,” said Robert Perry, Manager of UNMH Emergency Preparedness. “The courses gave hospital personnel and leadership the tools to effectively stand up and support hospital and university command centers during such a complex event as the helicopter accident. This confidence allowed the incident to be managed efficiently and effectively. After hearing student experiences and seeing the practicality and utilization of the training the requests for more training has been overwhelming."

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