5/11/2018 3:56:00 PM Fake disaster, but real training
Jackson County Emergency Management staffer Tommie Harless (left) listens as she and Jackson County Health Department Health Commissioner Kevin Aston play their roles at the Emergency Operations Center at the Imogene Brunton Davis Memorial Building in Oak Hill, during last Sunday’s hazardous-materials exercise. Aston was acting in the role of public information officer. Seen in the background listening is 911 Coordinator Justin Drummond. (Telegram Photos By Pete Wilson)
These leaders and members of Boy Scout Troop 5042 played the role of shelter evacuees at Oak Hill Elementary School during the hazardous-materials exercise on Sunday afternoon, May 6. Pictured (from the left) are: Kenton Michael, Chris Lovett, Caleb Lovett, Noah Barr, Alex Barber and Terry Barr.
The old saying is that "practice makes perfect" and that's why a host of Jackson County emergency personnel dedicated most of their Sunday afternoon on May 6 to participate in a hazardous-materials exercise in the Oak Hill area.
The Jackson County Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC), in cooperation with local emergency response agencies, conducted the training exercise between the hours of 1 and 5 p.m. in the Pyro Road area and at two different locations in the Village of Oak Hill.
The objective was to simulate an incident involving hazardous materials so participating agencies could practice their responses and hone their skills.
Evaluators from the Ohio Emergency Management Agency and other professionals from nearby counties served as official evaluators and observers.
The make-believe incident occurred when a tanker truck wrecked on Pyro Road northeast of Oak Hill, which resulted in a rupture of a gas pipeline and the escape of a potentially dangerous chemical. Emergency responders were called to the scene and initial reports indicated five persons were injured. An Emergency Operations Center (EOC) was established at the Imogene Brunton Davis Memorial Building in Oak Hill and an emergency shelter for potential evacuees was opened at Oak Hill Elementary School. A simulated severe thunderstorm which hit the area at the same time complicated matters.
Participating organizations include the Madison-Jefferson Fire Department, Jackson County EMS, Jackson County HAZMAT Team, Holzer Medical Center-Jackson, Oak Hill Police Department, Jackson County Emergency Management Agency (JCEMA), local news media, Jackson County Sheriff's Office, Jackson County Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), Jackson County Medical Reserve Corps (MRC), the Ohio River Valley Red Cross, the Ohio Emergency Management Agency, and the Jackson County Health Department. Members of Boy Scout Troop 5042 volunteered their time to serve as shelter evacuees.
Following the simulated incident and responses to it, the participants gathered at Oak Hill Elementary School for a review called a "hot wash" where comments were made by both evaluators and participants examining such areas as communication, public information, incident assessment, emergency operations center, resource management, shelter management, emergency medical services and hospital services. Practically all the comments and assessments were positive.
JCEMA Director Robert Czechlewski was pleased with the exercise, felt it was successful in its mission and was appreciative of all those who participated in it.
"This was a very extensive, full-scale exercise and we greatly appreciate the participation of all those involved," Czechlewski said in a post-exercise statement to participants. "As noted in the exercise hot wash afterwards, all of the exercise objectives were met and everyone evaluating was pleased with the actions they observed during the exercise."