Let me start this post by saying this is the first year we have not been outside during our July exercise. We made the decision early last week after looking at the long range forecast of excessive heat and knew we didn’t want people getting overheated during our exercise.
It was held at the Health Department meeting room with 38 in attendance for many disciplines. We were fortunate to get the Columbia HazMat Team to come over to participate since we decided we would have a chemical spill along with a possible radiation leak.
Our scenario started out on a Friday afternoon with temps in the mid 90s with a chance of pop up thunderstorms (sound realistic so far??). The weather forecast was calling for 70% chance of thunderstorms with damaging winds (gusts of up to 40 mph possible). Traffic is heavy and moving above the posted speed limits (I know we have seen this every Friday in the summer time). We have a box truck and a semi get together on the hill just before the Auxvasse Creek and one of them is carrying an unknown chemical. On the west bound lane just after this accident, we have a tractor trailer carrying food product collide with a van carrying medical radioactive waste.
Could this ever happen like this? We think this is a pretty likely event with the amount of traffic we get in our county and the chemicals that are hauled up and down our roadways. Next time you are traveling, watch for placards and you can look up that number to see what exactly you are passing.
Of course, fire took over incident command as soon as they arrived on the scene. We quickly realized that our resources would require mutual aid and the HazMat team would be quickly called. The radiation medical waste was so minimal, it was not a factor but we actually do have a radiation response volunteer corp that could test for contamination of surfaces and personnel if needed.
It also became quickly apparent, we would have to contact our State partners because we were having to shut down a major Federal highway for some time.
We learned some valuable lessons during this exercise but most importantly we learned we have help if we ask for it and made friendships that will last through many disasters. A huge thank you to everyone who attended and made this a success, may we continue to work together to make Callaway County more prepared!