North Carolina first responders simulate hazmat disaster response

First responders in Landis, North Carolina, conducted a multi-jurisdictional training exercise on Thursday to test their skills in responding to a simulated hazardous spill.

Emergency crews, firefighters and medical responders participated in the simulation, during which a rail car collided with a bus, causing a hazmat incident. As part of the scenario, some passengers on the bus were ejected; others were killed; and others were impaled, burned or disoriented. The training was carrying methyl ethyl ketone, a flammable substance used to make solvents, the Salisbury Post reports.

The emergency crews responded to the scenario as if it were real. Others observed and evaluated how the responders performed.

"We've been working for the last year or two to organize a large scale incident in the southern part of the county," Reed Linn, the Landis fire chief, said, according to the Salisbury Post. "This is the largest scale incident training that's been held in southern Rowan County. Everybody has worked well together."

Emergency responders collaborated with EnviroSafe, a North Carolina company that prepares responders for hazardous material incidents, to conduct the drill. EnviroSafe ensured the incident was plausible and realistic.

"We looked for opportunities for them to enhance their programs, identify improvements, if needed or what they did well and can build on," Derrick Duggins, the executive director of corporate operations for EnviroSafe, said, according to the Salisbury Post. "The good benefit is it gives an opportunity for responders to know their rules and expectations they have in working with each other and community partners."

At the end of the exercise, all the agencies involved in the scenario were debriefed. They will receive an action report of their performance from EnviroSafe at a later date, the Salisbury Post reports.