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The Douglas County Fire Department conducted a training exercise to respond to hazardous material incidents on Wednesday, November 1, 2017 using the support of the Douglas County Sheriff's office, the Emergency Management Agency and members of the E-911 team. The training exercise took place at the old jail property on Church Street near the fire department headquarters in Douglasville. Deputy Fire Chief Scott Zachmeyer said these events take precision to make sure each team carries out their tasks without becoming contaminated by the spill.
All of the equipment needed is stored in a ready-to-go Hazardous Materials Response Unit trailer including Haz-Mat suits, special rinsing wands, pools, and other cleaning supplies. This is just one of the many exercises that the Fire Department conducts every year. "Training for many different scenarios is important to be prepared for when real emergencies happen," Fire Chief Scott Spencer said. Chief Spencer and others supervised and acted as observers and afterwards provided the team members with ways that they can improve and participants added their input for possible changes to make the response in a real event as safe and efficient as possible.
The Haz-Mat suits are required to be vapor and liquid proof and the training exercise showed the Haz-Mat suits are. First Responders also have to make sure that they have enough air to be able to assess the situation and go through decontamination. In decontamination, each person that was exposed must be sprayed and scrubbed many times to ensure they are clean. This process requires a team of people to help each person into their suit, monitor responders while working, and complete the clean-up.
The training scenario included a first responders arriving to the scene of a white barrel with a black label spilling on a dock at a plant. A Sheriff's deputy was involved in an altercation and was contaminated with the substance in the barrel. The plant was evacuated, but firefighters were left with questions to ponder; Is there anyone still inside? What is the chemical that is leaking? Is the deputy receiving treatment? These are some of the questions that the Hazardous Materials (Haz-Mat) Response Unit had to answer when they arrived on scene and suited up.
The Douglas County Fire Department responds to emergency calls daily to protect the public safety of citizens all across the county. The department maintains and enhances its response to protect the community and themselves through training exercises. The Fire Department training division along with Emergency Management Agency organized the training exercise. For video of the training exercise or information contact Rick Martin, Deputy Director of Communications a Community Relations at 770-920-7303.