DELAWARE, Ohio (WCMH) — If you see a lot of emergency vehicles parked outside the old Delaware County Courthouse on Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday, that’s because first responders are taking part in a hazardous materials drill.
Several Delaware County agencies took part: fire departments from Orange Township, Scioto Township, Genoa Township, Liberty Township, Delaware city, Berlin, BST&G from the Sunbury area, Delaware County Emergency Management and Delaware County EMS, as well as the 52nd Civil Support Team from the Ohio National Guard, which specializes in weapons of mass destruction.
The county agencies met for the Delaware Area Response Team on Tuesday and planned to do so again on Wednesday and Thursday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The drill involved a call about a noxious odor inside the old courthouse.
The symptoms of the victims were described as “burning of the skin, eye irritation, respiratory distress.”
“This is an exercise that’s a little different than what their normal routine calls are like,” said First Lieutenant Brian Spotloe of the 52nd Civil Support Team.
For firefighters, routine calls include fire alarms, structure fires and car accidents. But once in awhile, there may be an unusual situation, such as a spill or release of a hazardous material or chemical.
“Most spills are petroleum products, things that you would expect—motor oil, gasoline, diesel,” Sean Miller, the director of Delaware County Emergency Management, said. “But it does vary from year to year.”
Firefighters involved in the drill made their way up the stairs to a room where they found a lab setup involving powder and liquids. The setup was meant to simulate production of a blister agent. The firefighters had to use meters to determine what the hazardous material or noxious odor could be, after they rescued dummy victims and took them outside to a decontamination tent.
The goal of the drill is twofold, intended to make sure first responders can safely and quickly rescue victims and to improve communications among Delaware County agencies and state entities like the Ohio National Guard, so that when hazmat situations happen, no one is hurt and everything runs smoothly.
The drills are scheduled to resume at 8 a.m. Wednesday and run from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday.