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Georgetown, Scott Co. first responders simulate hazmat scenario

Scott County first responders train for hazmat situation
Posted at 5:57 PM, Jul 10, 2024

GEORGETOWN, Ky. (LEX 18) — It was a fight against time for the Georgetown and Scott County Emergency Departments (GSCEMS). They completed hazmat simulation training and evacuated a building Wednesday.

The hazmat simulation was a first for both departments. They were kept in the dark until their feet hit the ground and they began assessing what was in front of them. The simulation was a derailed tank car spilling the toxic chemical phosgene onto the ground. Both departments jumped into action, creating a game plan, evacuating people, and putting a stop to the hazardous material.

"It's a very corrosive, potentially fatal chemical that that tank card had derailed, but the compound or chemical that was actually leaking was then diesel fuel from the train engine," said Jon Osterman, who is the Georgetown and Scott County Emergency Management division chief.

Osterman says only a limited number of people knew the situation was a simulation, and they intentionally kept as many people in the dark about the exercise as they could while maintaining staffing and daily operational capacity for all agencies.

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Re'Jeana Craft, the deputy director of the GSCEMS, says these exercises are important for first responders to participate in because they allow the departments to discuss communication issues and needed equipment.

"We may need more hazmat suits or we may need bigger tanks and things like that. So it's things that we can look at and say, do we need more resources? Do we need more grants to do more resources?" explains Craft.

Osterman admits, only one mistake was made during training: "Some phone calls that should have been placed to partner agencies that didn't for the sake of the exercise. That did lead to some complications and we had some simulated patients that were transported to the hospital and the phone call didn't make it to the hospital that there was an exercise happening."

Along with practicing these situations to prepare them for anything, it's also good to keep up with the ever-changing world.

"You know, the results from this hopefully we're all going to be able to improve our agencies whether that's receiving more grants or equipment to be better achieve our objectives," said Osterman.

GSCEMS is already planning for next year's simulation scenario.