Complete coverage of the Chicago NATO Summit

Hospitals Prepped for NATO Summit

Hospitals are preparing for everything from bioterrorism to heat strokes

By Nesita Kwan
|  Saturday, May 19, 2012  |  Updated 5:00 AM CDT
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Nesita Kwan talks to representatives from area hospitals who say they are ready.

Nesita Kwan talks to representatives from area hospitals who say they are ready.

From bioterrorism to heat stroke, the city’s hospitals are also prepared for NATO.

At Stroger hospital, tents and semi-trucks fill a parking lot outside the main hospital.

And at Rush University medical Center, an area right beside the ER can be transformed to triage and treat large crowds in case of a major bio terror event.  

“This is not a typical ambulance bay,” said Lauris Freidenfelds,  pointing to the a large space which contains sprinklers overhead and a special eyewash zone. It’s where ambulance usually park, but the director of security at Rush says it can quickly be transformed into a decontamination space.

The garage contains overhead sprinklers to help dilute any possible chemicals such as tear gas. It also has a special eyewash zone. And it then leads directly into the emergency room.

Freidenfields say the staff has gotten special training about crowd management because when people are “waiting to be decontaminated or feel like they’re contaminated, they can get into a panic situation.. and get nervous.”  

And in a worst case scenario, doctors and nurses may be at risk themselves.. so the hospital is ready with bio contamination suits that cover every inch of a worker’s body, and provide a safe supply of oxygen.

The dangers facing protestors, on the other hand, may have more to do with the weather.. as forecasters predict a sunny weekend in the eighties.

So at Stroger, the decontamination tents, which look much like the ones used at the Chicago marathon, can act almost like a human car wash: offering a cooling zone with nozzles on the sides and tops that can spray people suffering from the heat.. or wash off people in cases where pepper spray or tear gas may have been used.
But despite all the preparations, Dr. Robert Feldman, director of disaster planning for the health system at Stroger Hospital, hopes this weekend is nothing more than one big training exercise.

“This is an opportunity for us to be able to setup the equipment, try it out and make sure all the systems work together,” Feldman said. “The most likely thing by far is that nothing bad will happen.”

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