The hospital has been working for nearly a year to assemble equipment and train personnel to be ready for a disaster. What they presented on Friday is a fully operational disaster response system that is equipped to respond to threats ranging from terrorist attacks to an outbreak of an infectious disease like bird flu.
"Even though the hazards are different, we react to them in a similar way," said Lawrence Wells who coordinates training at the hospital. "It's all the fundamentals -- know your ABCDE's."
One of the major lessons of disaster preparedness is portability. Everything in the hospital's disaster preparedness arsenal is on wheels and can be erected on-site in a matter of minutes.
"If there is an event in Long Beach, they can contact us and we can send some of our equipment down," Lackey said.
The equipment itself, from the lightweight respirators to the protective suits, may appear complex, but most of the gear is fairly easy for a nurse or doctor to understand, Lackey said. Training, however, is necessary, she said, in order to make sure everyone is comfortable in the situation.
"The major hurtle is just getting everyone trained," said Shannon Kendall, an emergency preparedness coordinator. "We train people how to suit up, how to set up the decontamination unit, and how to identify the characteristics of different contaminants."
In one training scenario, staff is asked how to respond when patients show up in the hospital emergency room covered in oil and showing signs that a nerve agent has been used.
"You have to avoid cross-contamination," Kendall said.
When contaminated, victims are filed through a shower system configured much like a carwash -- there are rooms for both the wash and rinse cycle.
To get everyone familiar with the procedures the hospital is planning on creating an online training program for staff. Training the community at-large, Lackey said, is a tougher question.