Providence St. Patrick Hospital will be conducting a full-scale emergency response exercise called ‘Operation Presidio Guardian’ on Saturday.

Director of Safety and Security Shawn Paul said the exercise is meant to test the hospital emergency response team to decontaminate large numbers of mass-casualty patients who have been exposed to lye before being treated at the hospital’s emergency room.

“We’re going to have approximately 30 to 40 volunteers to be part of a scenario where there’s been a motor vehicle accident, and the vehicle has been carrying lye,” Paul said. “Now, multiple people have trauma type injuries along with contamination to the lye and we need to decontaminate them prior to admitting them to the hospital. Those volunteers will slowly arrive and we will establish our decontamination area that we’ll call the ‘hot zone’ where our caregivers will put on personal protective equipment and we will begin to wash and clean the patients who are able to walk and also non-ambulatory patients on a roller-type process on a stretcher. We’ll use mass quantities of soap and water to clean them, and it’s important to capture and dispose of the contaminated water.”

Paul said the patients and the caregivers will be protected, as well as the physical environment at the hospital.

Paul said the exercise will be conducted on Saturday morning starting at 10:00 a.m. at the entrance to the emergency department ambulance bay off West Spruce and McCormick Streets.

Other agencies involved in the exercise include the Missoula County Office of Emergency Management, Montana Disaster and Emergency Management, Northwestern Energy and Hexion, Incorporated.