February 09, 2007

Medical emergency response team plans 'boot camp'

by K.C. Jaehnig

CARBONDALE, Ill. — How does Illinois prepare for terrorist attacks, chemical spills or an epidemic of bird flu? Practice, practice, practice.

The Illinois Medical Emergency Response Team, or IMERT, will hold a "boot camp" — one of its compulsory orientation and team training sessions — from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 17, at Southern Illinois University Carbondale's Safety Center, 1435 Douglas Drive.

Media Advisory

Reporters and photographers may cover any aspect of the boot camp. For more information, contact Peggy A. Wilken at 618/453-2777.

IMERT began back in 1999 to help Illinoisans should a major disaster involving huge numbers of injuries and deaths occur anywhere in the state. Today, the 1,200-member volunteer group includes doctors, nurses and EMTs, as well as logistics, safety, communications and computer specialists.

"We have whatever it takes for us to take care of an emergency," said Peggy A. Wilken, a clinical assistant professor in Southern Illinois University Carbondale's health education and recreation department and the assistant training coordinator for IMERT's southern region.

"We're always changing our equipment and supplies; members have to know how to use them," Wilken said.

The camp will include drills, aircraft safety procedures, and triage procedures.

"We have 12 minutes to set up our triage tent (where injuries are assessed, ranked by severity and given stop-gap treatment before the wounded are shipped to regular hospitals)," Wilken said. "We can do it in six!"