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Press Release

County, Local Hospitals to Stage Drill - June 9 Simulating Pesticide Accident

County, Local Hospitals to Stage Drill
June 9 Simulating Pesticide Accident

For release June 3, 2005

Efforts by Contra Costa Health Services and local hospitals to prepare for a variety of possible health emergencies will continue June 9 in an exercise featuring multiple "patients" hypothetically exposed to potentially lethal pesticide.

Six local hospitals are participating in this "real time" exercise. It is scheduled from 7 a.m. to noon, with one hour each for preparation and evaluation sandwiched around the three-hour exercise.

The medical centers include Contra Costa Regional in Martinez, Doctor's in San Pablo, John Muir in Walnut Creek, Kaiser Walnut Creek, Mt. Diablo in Concord, and San Ramon Regional.

The exercise scenario starts with reports of a helicopter landing in a field after accidentally releasing pesticide over residents, farmworkers and motorists in East County. Volunteers will be playing the parts of victims in need of treatment and decontamination.

The exercise is funded by the federal Health Resources and Services Administration as part of the National Bioterrorism Hospital Preparedness Program, said Dan Guerra, Emergency Preparedness Manager for Contra Costa Health Services (CCHS).

"This will be an excellent opportunity to test the capacity of medical centers in Contra Costa to handle a large influx of patients, as well as testing the communication lines between the health department and the private sector," said Guerra, who has helped coordinate several other types of emergency exercises for CCHS in recent years.

"Much of the preparedness money the county has received for hospitals in prior years has gone for emergency response equipment," said Guerra. "Use of the equipment by people in 'first receiver' roles and practicing decontamination procedures are two major objectives of this exercise."

The county's microwave ReddiNet communications system, which relies on neither the Internet nor phone lines, will also play a big part, he said.

Guerra said the county hired a contractor, Ecology & Environment Inc., to help coordinate and evaluate the drill with some of its Health Resources and Services Administration preparedness money from a 2003 grant.

The contractor and various participants in the drill - which include the state Department of Health Services, the local community clinic system and county Office of Emergency Services - have been meeting the past few months to determine the details of the exercise and what the scenario should be.

For more information about emergency preparedness in Contra Costa County, visit the Contra Costa Health Services website at and click on Health Topics, which has information about bioterrorism and emergency readiness.

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Press Contact
  • Dan Guerra
  • 925-646-4492