By Linda Collins
Greene County News
MAD RIVER TOWNSHIP — First responders from Hustead Fire Department will be donning hazmat suits as they respond to an emergency situation in southeastern Clark County on Wednesday evening, Oct. 5.
Fire department officials are telling the public not to be alarmed. They are merely playing a key role in a hazardous materials response training exercise that will involve multiple agencies in Clark County.
The Clark County Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC), in collaborating with the Springfield Air National Guard Base and Lineage Logistics, will be initiating a full-scale hazardous materials training exercise at Airpark Ohio, located on State Route 68, five miles south of Interstate 70 and the City of Springfield.
“The Clark County Local Emergency Planning Committee has laid out the emergency operations plan, which will be evaluated by the State of Ohio,” Hustead Fire Chief Larry Ridenour said.
Ridenour explained that the exercise, which will begin at 6 p.m., involves a mock hazardous materials release. A bus transporting Air National Guardsmen, who are returning to base from a training exercise, has collided with a freight truck that is hauling 55-gallon barrels filled with unknown chemicals. The truck has overturned as the result of the impact, spilling the chemicals onto the road and prompting a hazmat response.
“In a situation like this, the local fire department having jurisdiction implements the emergency operations plan. The accident scene is located in our department’s jurisdiction. Therefore, I am the incident commander for this training drill,” said Ridenour.
The fire chief noted that the emergency operations plan consists of four segments.
The LEPC Community Emergency Response Hazmat Coordinator will establish an emergency operation center at the Springview Government Center in Springfield and will notify the proper authorities at the county and state levels, support the incident commander and issue evacuation notices. The Clark County Emergency Management Agency will act as the supporting agency.
The Springfield Regional Medical Center, another supporting agency, will identify and treat the mass casualties, which Ridenour said would consist of 12 accident victims, including one fatality.
The Clark County Chapter of the American Red Cross, also a supporting agency, will set up a temporary shelter for 10 evacuees at Greenon High School in Mad River Township.
“All the agencies involved will follow a certain protocol and will strive to reach certain goals in their specific areas of expertise,” Ridenour said. “The air national guard base will activate their family notification system as well.”
Enon/Mad River Township Fire and EMS Chief Tracy Young will take on the role of assistant hazmat incident commander, and Hustead Firefighter John Maurer will act as the public information officer. Firefighters and EMS crews from Pitchin, Springfield Township, the City of Springfield, Yellow Springs and Cedarville will also be participating in the scenario.
“This drill will provide us with valuable information without placing us in a possible hazardous environment, and it will also test our communication skills with other agencies,” said Ridenour.
Linda Collins is a freelance reporter for Greene County News.