Muskingum Co. Practices a Mock Disaster

by Katie Jeffries on March 18, 2010 at 7:06 am

Sixteen counties across Ohio Thursday took part in a disaster drill to give first responders and county emergency management agencies practice should a real disaster strike.

"Attention Washington Township Fire personnel, this will be a disaster drill, please respond to 3400 Jim Granger Drive. 3400 Jim Granger Drive, got a tanker truck that has rolled over on its side, unknown injuries, unknown if it is leaking" chimed the Muskingum county scanner at exactly 9:00 a.m. Thursday morning.

Emergency personnel throughout the county rolled out this morning to respond to a mock, hazardous chemical spill at the Eastpointe Industrial Park. In Muskingum County’s scenario there is six inches of snow on the ground and a tanker rolled injuring the driver and a passenger and begins leaking sulfuric acid. First responders and the Muskingum County Emergency Management Agency must now mobilize as quickly as possible to stop the leak and help the injured. But the first responders soon find out the tanker is not their only problem.

In theory a cloud of toxic fumes has drifted over to Bilco and sickened many of their employees.  It is just one more thing first responders are going to have to deal with in addition to the overturned tanker.

"Their employees will complain of being overcome by fumes and there will be 20 victims transported from Bilco to the hospital," says EMA Deputy Director Jeff Jadwin.

But no one can go near the tanker until the Hazmat team arrives.

"In our trailer we have all the different level suits. My understanding of this drill, they (first responders) will be completely encapsulated in Level 1A suit. I don’t know what is in the tanker, but it is obviously bad stuff," says Stephen Vincent with the Muskingum County Region 8 Strike Team.

A full scale decontamination unit is set up 1,000 feet away from the tanker. Four people suited up in the full-scale Hazmat suits and two tended to the wounded driver and passenger, while the other two worked on the tanker. They must use the tools on hand and work together to stop the sulfuric acid leak.

"That is clear the leak has been contained," chirped the Hazmat radio around 11:00 a.m.

The entire drill took around three hours to complete and had around 150 participants. Though it was only a drill, first responders say with the tankers that travel I-70 day and night, a scenario like this one could happen any day.



Katie Jeffries