BUCYRUS — The Crawford County Fairgrounds was the scene of a crash involving toxic chemicals on Wednesday, but not really.
It was actually the scene of a full-scale exercise by the
Crawford County Local Emergency Planning Committee and the county’s Emergency Management Agency (EMA).
The exercise kicked off at 9 a.m. with Tim Flock, director of the EMA, explaining to about a hundred members of local law enforcement, fire departments, Avita Health, emergency medical technicians, the Crawford and Galion Health Departments and the Red Cross what the scenario would entail for the day’s event.
“We have a pick-up truck that has hit a pole. There are two chemical tanks in the back that are now leaking hazardous chemicals,” Flock said.
Flock said the tanks were donated by Sunrise Cooperative. The “chemicals” leaking from the truck was actually water.
“We do an exercise every year but once every four years, we are required to do a major event involving all of the departments and agencies that will be graded by the state,” said Jette Cander, deputy director of the Crawford County EMA.
There were five evaluators on site for the training exercise that Galion Fire Chief Phil Jackson said is very important.
“We can make our mistakes here so when we are dealing with the real thing, we are prepared,” Jackson said.
Jackson said a toxic spill has not happened in Galion in the past few years.
“But Bucyrus has had some. All of our guys are trained in hazardous waste so we help out when we are needed,” Jackson said.
Both the Galion and Crawford County Health Departments were on hand to conduct their own exercises.
“We are gaining experience in dealing with mass deaths and producing mass death certificates,” said Kate Seifert, administrator at Crawford Health.
Stephanie Zmuda, environmental health director at the Galion Health Department, said she attended the event to be an observer.
“I think it’s important to know who all the players are and get to know them. When you are familiar with people, it is easier to work together,” Zmuda said.
Glenn Cheesman of the Crawford County Sheriff’s Office acts as the public information officer in crisis situations.
“It is important to get information out to the public as necessary to keep people safe, especially when we are dealing with something like a hazardous chemical spill,” said Cheesman.
Cander said the results of the state’s evaluation will be received and relayed to the local emergency planning committee at a later date.
For more information about the Crawford County Emergency Management Agency, visit http://emacrawford-co.org/index.htm.