PAYNE — Emergency personnel from Paulding County, Indiana and the state of Ohio converged on Payne Saturday for a hazardous materials exercise.
"Each year the Ohio EMA (Emergency Management Agency) and Ohio SERC (State Emergency Response Commission) require us to conduct an exercise to exercise our hazardous material plans with what products we have in the county," said Ed Bohn, director of the Paulding EMA.
This year's exercise was a hands-on functional one held at Brigner Trucking Co. off of Ohio 613. Under the scenario held by the Paulding County Local Emergency Planning Committee, a sheriff's deputy was involved in a motor vehicle chase with an individual in a pickup truck. The pickup hit a diesel fuel tanker, causing it to lead more than 1,000 gallons.
"Under the scenario there are three people contaminated," said Anita Stechschulte, a disaster service consultant with the Ohio EMA.
She pointed out that the Ohio EMA brought its communications tower to help with the exercise. Representatives from the Indiana Department of Homeland Security and Woodburn, Ind. fire departments were taking part in the exercise as well as entities from Ohio.
Locally, the Paulding County EMA, Paulding County Sheriff's Office, Paulding County Engineer's Office, Payne and Scott EMS, American Red Cross and Cecil/Crane Township, Payne, Scott, Antwerp, Convoy and Grover Hill Fire departments participated in the exercise.
Firefighters, wearing breathing apparatuses, had to quickly evacuate victims that had become overcome by diesel fumes, put out absorbent booms to catch the spill, and set up a HAZMAT shower. Other crews worked on scene and traffic control.
The exercise was evaluated by several other local emergency officials as well as individuals from the state.
"The activity is all part of our emergency operations plan with hazardous (emergency response) annex," Bohn said.
Exercises like the one being conducted help agencies see any aspects or parts of the plan that need to be re-written or altered to better handle any real-life situations that may occur.
Bohn said the decision to change any of the emergency plans will be made based on the information he receives from the evaluations following the exercise.