Response exercise partners Wisconsin community with railroad
| 09.12.2007 | 08:29:31 | Views: 3535 | ID:
September 12 '07: More than 35 federal, state and local agencies and 200 to 300 officials, responders and community volunteers participated in a mock train derailment/chemical spill disaster exercise in Portage, Wisconsin in cooperation with Canadian Pacific Railroad the Portage Daily Register reported.
"Police, firefighters and EMT's responded as if a criminal act had caused the train to derail in the railyard, puncturing a tanker containing 29,000 gallons of the poisonous gas anhydrous ammonia," the Register reported. Portage Mayor Ken Jahn told the Daily Register, "We learned an awful lot today about the city and its workings. ... We also realized there's a lot of work we can do to improve for the future."Of the main concerns during the exercise: officials from the Canadian Pacific said that taking stock of the situation, communication about the current dangers and then communicating that to those who are working to respond is essential. Donnie Day, an organizer for CP said, "One of the worst things that can happen [to] responders is to rush in without taking stock of the situation. ... In that case, you die as well." Local officials said they also saw the need to integrate community alert messaging into their response plan. And alerts sent to the local radio stations were not broadcast because "there was no one on duty at the station." Mayor Jahn also said that activating the town's emergency operations center was helpful because he could get an idea about the communication dynamic between himself, local emergency management operations officials and those in the field. Overall, officials said the snags in response operations were helpful in teaching them how to rework their response plans. Chemical cleanup experts from the railroad also said the community's leaders did well in their response and that they were better prepared than they were a year ago.
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