Nacogdoches Medical Center conducts successful full-scale DECON drill

Apr 14, 2023

(Nacogdoches, TX) – Nacogdoches Medical Center, along with the Southeast Texas Regional Advisory Council (SETRAC), successfully conducted a full-scale emergency hazardous material drill on hospital grounds April 12.

Hospital, emergency and SETRAC personnel practiced their skills as they responded swiftly and safely to a simulated incident in which a family of five at the Final Four basketball tournament in Houston are rushed to the ER as they suddenly become feel ill and are complaining of flu like symptoms. During triage, the family notes that they were travelling with a large local church group on a chartered bus. Somehow, these individuals were exposed to Cesium 137 (Cs-137). According to the CDC, external exposure to large amounts of Cs-137 can cause burns, acute radiation sickness, and even death in humans. Exposure to Cs-137 can increase the risk for cancer because of exposure to high-energy gamma radiation.

Could this happen in real life? Possibly. That’s why Nacogdoches Medical Center is ensuring they’re ready when an emergency similar to this could occur.

The emergency drill included:

  • Assembly of the hospital’s Incident Command Center
  • Set up of DECON (decontamination) trailer in front of the hospital
  • Performance of the decontamination process used in emergency situations
  • Exercise of an emergency situation in which a radiological incident has occurred at the Final Four event in Houston. Simulation of multiple people exposed to Cesium 137, a radioactive chemical in the form of a blue powder that is toxic to humans

Jeff Patterson, CEO of Nacogdoches Medical Center, said conducting drills such as these are vital to ensure the hospital’s readiness to establish the incident command structure as outlined by the Emergency Operations Plan. The drills also assess the ability of the DECON team to mobilize and setup the decontamination equipment in a timely manner.

“We are proud to partner with the SETRAC on this drill that will allow us to ensure we are prepared to provide safe decontamination and care in the event an emergency such as this would occur,” Patterson said. “Families put their trust in us and we are committed to helping protect our community in every type of situation,” he said.

For more information about Nacogdoches Medical Center, visit

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