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Responding to a Hazmat Event with Minimal Resources:

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October 13, 2022
Gareth Black, Senior Crisis Consultant, CHEMTREC

“Launched in 1972, CHLOREP (the Chlorine Emergency Plan) is The Chlorine Institute’s mutual aid program that provides a rapid and effective response to chlorine emergencies in the U.S. and Canada by ensuring that transportation service providers, end-users, first responders, hazmat teams and others have quick access to accurate information and industry expertise. Supported by chlorine producers, packagers, and specially trained emergency response contractors, CHLOREP provides emergency responders with expert support via telephone within minutes, and if needed, will rapidly deploy emergency equipment and personnel to the scene of any chlorine emergency in the U.S. or Canada. The CHLOREP network includes more than 80 response teams from 21 Chlorine Institute member companies across the U.S. and Canada, as well as 9 emergency response contractors who meet the Institute’s stringent performance requirements.” Chlorine Institute 2022. 

Anderson County, Kansas has a population of just under 8000 residents. It’s emergency services, like many across the country are largely staffed by volunteers and lack the resources of larger metropolitan departments. Despite this, the county still must contend with many high hazard industries and high hazard vehicles on its roads and railroads. This reduced capacity, combined with the potential impact of an incident was recently put to the test when CHEMTREC’s Crisis Solutions team ran a live exercise scenario in Garnett, Anderson County.

The live exercise simulated a collision between a truck carrying chlorine cylinders from a local plant, and 2 cars on Interstate 169. With specialist HAZMAT support over 2 hours away, the local fire department, EMS, and hospital worked together to size up the scene, make it as safe as possible, rescue people, decontaminate the site, treat casualties and deal with the wider impacts of the incident including a major transportation disruption. The team also activated specialist capabilities from the county level and activated CHLOREP via CHEMTREC (see box for description).

Watching the team respond, Exercise Director, Chris Scott from CHEMTREC commented “... we have had the pleasure of working with some of the world’s largest, and busiest fire departments, with almost unlimited resources, and there is no way they could have undertaken such an effective response with the resources the Anderson County teams had at their disposal. I am in awe of the bravery and skill of these men and women who responded effectively to safeguard people and the environment, despite the limitations placed on them, they are a credit to their services and local community.” 

 

Anderson Drill Photo collage

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