St. Louis Public Radio News
5:54 pm
Tue May 25, 2010

Mo. Public Health Lab conducts hazmat exercises

Jefferson City, Mo. – State and local authorities conducted two hazardous materials (hazmat) exercises today at the State Public Health Laboratory in Jefferson City.

Both exercises centered on a scenario in which a powdery substance is discovered in the State Health Lab's mailroom, prompting a building-wide evacuation. And the simulations included seven employees being exposed to the substance and going through decontamination.

Michelle Rodemeyer portrayed one of the "victims."

"We really did start thinking about, okay, what would we really do if 'Jeremy' was more hurt than just (from breathing in the foreign substance), or if something really did happen, what would we do?" Rodemeyer said.

The state lab worker identified as "Jeremy" was transported to a local hospital during the morning drill, and a second "patient" was taken during the afternoon drill. Two Jefferson City hospitals participated in the exercises.

Mary Menges, Assistant Director of the State Public Health Laboratory, oversaw the drills.

"We practice all of our protocols, all of our safe protocols, every single day in opening (specimen containers)...we have never had a laboratory accident, and we plan to keep it that way and drills such as this will assure that," Menges said.