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ASU graduate student coordinates WMD drill at Banner Baywood

April 18, 2005

With the help of ASU Environmental Technology Management graduate student Rob Gresser, Banner Baywood Medical Center held a weapons of mass destruction (WMD) drill on April 7. The drill was the first in Arizona to incorporate the new OSHA decontamination guidelines issued in December 2004.

Gresser, who has worked for Banner Baywood Medical Center as an emergency technician since July 2004, coordinated the drill as part of his master's degree applied project. The drill simulated an agriculturally-based hazardous materials situation in which a large farm in Queen Creek had an airplane fly over and spray chemicals on the workers below. Volunteers from ASU, Banner Baywood and local fire departments acted as the workers.

Though it was an accidental simulation, Gresser said it would be similar to what would happen if people were exposed to WMDs.

"This is an organo-phosphate exposure, which is an insecticide agent," said Gresser. "However, organo-phosphates are also used in nerve agents in WMDs."

Gresser's plan focused on the development and implementation of a hazardous materials/WMD response program for hospital emergency room departments. He looked at what Banner Baywood had done in the past with regards to hazardous materials emergencies, and what was currently available.

"The plan covers all aspects of handling such incidents and is a template that could be implemented at any hospital in the state," said Gresser, who graduates in May with a master's degree in Emergency Management.