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Mock Chemical Spill at Burnsville Water Treatment Plant a Training Opportunity

Burnsville emergency responders, along with personnel from other local agencies, trained last week during a mock chemical spill at the Burnsville Water Treatment Plant.

Editor's Note: The following is a press release from the Burnsville Police Department.

A chemical spill at the Burnsville Water Treatment Plant results in a number of victims – and a coordinated effort by multiple agencies to save lives and contain the situation ensues. That was the scenario on Oct. 4 when members of Burnsville Police, Fire and Public Works —along with Fairview Ridges Hospital and multiple neighboring agencies—performed a real-time mock emergency response drill.

“The Police Department trains regularly for the more ‘routine’ types of calls,” said Burnsville Police Sgt. and Emergency Management Coordinator Don Stenger. “Our Fire Department also has an aggressive training program—but again, the focus is usually on ‘routine’ events. Exercises like the one at the Water Treatment Plant require a response that is anything but routine.”

The city of Burnsville, which has a detailed emergency operations plan in place, trains with its Emergency Operations Center at City Hall annually, while holding more in depth, full-scale exercises periodically. According to Stenger, these exercises prepare responders and other city employees for high-risk, low frequency events that could take place in Burnsville.

“In emergency management, we always ‘plan for the worst and hope for the best’,” said Stenger. “It’s important that we create a scenario that, while extremely unlikely to occur, prepares us for anything that could be thrown at us. We will review how the exercise went, note the great work that was done, as well as areas for improvement, and provide additional training and equipment in the areas needed. It’s all a part of the proactive emergency preparedness culture we have fostered here in Burnsville.”

Responders from Burnsville’s mutual aid partners, including Eagan, Apple Valley, Savage, Dakota County Special Operations Team, Dakota Communications Center and Fairview Ridges Hospital also took part in the exercise. For more information on Burnsville’s Emergency Preparedness Plan visit www.burnsville.org/prepare.

ccsafetyguy October 09, 2012 at 05:00 PM
It certainly is appropriate to use simulations/drills and other means to prepare for possible emergency situations, such as a hazardous chemical release. The LEPC, local hazmat organizations and local industries that make/use/store/transport hazardous chemicals should also consider the acquisition and use of commercially available technologies (software and hardware) that specifically deal with chemical releases and allow emergency management and response personnel to not only run real-world simulations/drills but also to more effectively detect and respond to a real chemical emergency. But buyer beware. Some technologies offered by the supposed leaders in such technologies may not live up to their sales hype. Two good articles to read are Chemical Emergencies: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow published in EHS Today, a Penton Media publication, Feb 1, 2010 and 10 Things You Should Know Before Buying Hazmat/Chemical Emergency Technologies, written by Chris Cowles and also published in EHS Today by Penton Media November 30, 2011. Both articles are posted on the EHS Today website.

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