What is hazmat and why didn't Anna & Carter know how to treat Benzine poisoning?

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From tonight's rerun of "Exodus" I'm guessing that hazmat stands for hazardous materials, but why did everyone keep talking about it as though it was some kind of group that was supposed to come & clean up the ER? Is that something that's part of the fire department?

Also, I thought it was a little odd that Carter and Anna didn't know how to treat Benzine poisoning and had to look it up in the book. I know it's not something they see everyday, but wouldn't they have learned about stuff like that in medical school?

-- Melanie (msintn@hotmail.com), July 18, 2000


Melanie, Yes, a Hazmat is a Hazardous Materials incident, but also you have a "HazMat Team" or department that comes out to clean up these types of incidents. You can't just wash the stuff down the sewers, and you have to scrub down or dispose of anyone/anything contaminated. You have to learn lots of stuff with HazMat and each chemical has different treatments - even the teams that deal with this on a regular basis have to look up information on how to handle these incidents. I don't find it odd that Carter and Anna had to look up treatment for Benzine poisoning - if they gave the wrong treatment they could possibly kill a patient. Compare it to some instructions on ingested (swallowed) poisons, some say to induce vomiting - but then others types are caustic and would cause a lot more damage coming back up rather then letting them stay in the stomach until you reach a hospital and can get the stomach pumped.

-- Lolina (lolina_69@hotmail.com), July 18, 2000.

Speaking of "Exodus" and Benzine, that was Mickey Rooney making an appearance as the professor that Carter was givig an eye exam to, who alerted Carter to the Benzine, wasn't it?

-- SB (SB@aol. com), July 18, 2000.

That was indeed Mickey Rooney, SB.

This was such a great epi I'm still getting goosebumps!

-- S. Trelles (trelles@ix.netcom.com), July 18, 2000.

In answer to the part of your thread about Carter and Anna having to look up Benzine poisoning, Melanie, it's not realistic to think that everything a doctor learns in med school is going to be remembered, especially if it was never put to practice and especially with there being more and more to learn every year. That's why there's reference material (printed and computerized) to help professionals. I am a CPA. When I was in college my tax accounting professor gave us open book tests because we needed to know how to apply tax laws, not to memorize them. There's a lot of things on the CPA exam that I've never encountered in practice and probably never will. If I do, I'll look it up in the appropriate professional source. We have a joke that CPA stands for "couldn't pass again" (sorry, it's accounting humor) because much of the exam involves very specific material. I doubt that any CPA will ever encounter in her career everything that's covered on the uniform exam. I doubt that any doctor will either and so they focus on the more possible traumas and trust the others to reference material as needed.

-- Diana (dilynne@juno.com), July 19, 2000.

HAZMAT Teams are a special division of the fire department and in hospitals there are usually HAZMAT officers of some sort because things like that happen, and they need to act faster than they did. Just remember, this is ER. In my area, Fairfax County Virginia, they have a Special "Rescue Squad" that is a HAZMAT unit. If you dont know, Rescue Squads are just, to put it simply, big ambulances/small fire engines (they are actually really big) and most have specific purposes, like HAZMAT. They also function as Rescueing people (DUH!!!) from unique situations and Cars. They carry the jaws of life. Well, back to my area, there is the primary unit, and 3 "sattleite units" that are not specific to hazmat, but have equipment and the people have the training required to control and fix a spill while waiting for the HAZMAT unit, which is across the county from me, if there ever were an incident near me. In a city like Chicago they probably have many units, and probably could arrive faster and maintain the ER and get whatever is needed better than on the show, but that doesn't really make good TV.......... Well, that is my two (or more) sense, and to let you know, i am not a firefighter, just a ER fan and teen very interested in emergency services!

-- Steven Jacobson (steven@episodeguides.com), January 04, 2001.

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