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CHEMTREC Chlorine Exercise

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October 12, 2022

CHEMTREC’s Crisis Solutions team recently visited the town of Garnett, Anderson County (KS) to run a full-scale exercise involving a local chemical plant for their local emergency management team and emergency responders. CHEMTREC had worked closely with the Anderson County team for several months to identify credible risks and capabilities which the county needed to test, and to turn this into a viable scenario.

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The live exercise simulated a collision between a truck carrying chlorine cylinders from a local plant and two cars on Interstate 169. The exercise was brought to life with actors, vehicles, props, and the use of smoke grenades to simulate a chlorine release. Ensuring the scenario is as realistic as possible is a vital element of any live exercise, the live exercise should be the pinnacle of any exercise program and should aim to create an immersive environment where all elements of the plan are tested in as real an environment as possible. This was achieved during this exercise, with actors even dialing 911 and using the local dispatch center to initiate the exercise. Suddenly the Anderson County plan was no longer a set of pages sitting on a shelf, but a living document, tested in response to a simulated scenario.

Utilizing a live exercise, with the capabilities the county had available on the day, highlighted both the challenges faced by a small county like Anderson County, but also the solutions which could be implemented. With specialist hazmat support over two hours away, the local fire department, EMS, and hospital were responsible to size up the scene, make it as safe as possible, safely rescue people, decontaminate the scene, and treat casualties and deal with the wider impacts of the incident including major transportation disruption. The job the responders did went above and beyond that which was outlined in their plan. While they lacked many of the capabilities, resources, and staff seen at larger departments, they demonstrated their resourcefulness and knowledge to make the scene safe and protect people and the wider environment. The exercise provided a realistic testbed to then learn from, improve and update their plans based upon the excellent practices observed through the exercise. Personal relationships we’re built upon and more in depth understanding of the other agencies who responded enhanced the exercise and strengthened the counties resilience for future incidents and exercises.

The CHEMTREC Crisis Solution team helps responders like you and companies like yours review plans, develop exercises ranging from workshops and drills, through to live play exercises and simulations, to help you be better prepared when an incident occurs.

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