Ohio First Responder Agencies Partake in Hazmat Exercise

Ohio First Responder Agencies Partake in Hazmat Exercise

News Jul 21, 2017

July 20—Firefighters and area health officials spent Thursday morning training to react in case of a major chemical spill or similar emergency.

The exercise, which lasted most of the day, was designed to give rescuers and staff at the Springfield Regional Medical Center hands-on experience with how to deal with emergencies involving hazardous materials, said Ken Johnson, deputy director of the Clark County Emergency Agency.

"A lot of them don't usually get the opportunity to work together on something like this," Johnson said of hazmat accidents. "It's a great opportunity to bring multiple agencies together."

The agencies set up a mass casualty tent where patients would likely be treated first before entering the Springfield Regional Medical Center in the event of a real chemical spill, said Kaiti Overholser, emergency management coordinator for the Springfield Regional Medical Center.

The drill included the Springfield Fire Division and a county Hazmat truck, and the drill allowed hospital staff to practice going through a decontamination process with patients, she said.

"You never really know when something like this is going to happen," Overholser said. "Our staff needs to be prepared in the event there's a gas leak or any type of chemical spill. It's always better to be prepared just in case."

Firefighters acted as victims and were taken to the hospital, where they were taken to the casualty tent and underwent the decontamination process.

The training also offered firefighter recruits the opportunity to obtain training for how to deal with hazmat situations, said Lt. Jonathan Pirk, of the Springfield Fire Division.

"Just reading it in a book does not accomplish what they need to accomplish," he said. "They need to physically accomplish the task."

Springfield News-Sun, Ohio

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