By Dale Barnett
Photos by Jim Barker and Dale Barnett
First responders in the Elmore County area received valuable additional training on Friday, May 13e and Saturday May 14. Police and volunteers from the Millbrook, Coosada, Wetumpka, Santuck Fire Department, and volunteers from the Elmore County Amateur Radio Operators reported to the Elmore County Firefighters Association at 191 Red Eagle Drive to Wetumpka for training provided by the University of Findlay Hazard Training Program.
The training was made possible through a grant from the US Department of Transportation PHMSA division. The training sessions were held through a partnership with the Elmore County Firefighters Association and the Elmore County Emergency Management Agency Office, which reported that a total of 36 responders attended. involved over the two days and that each session lasted eight hours.
Findlay Trainer Jim Barker said their company is located in Findlay Ohio and they offer all levels of hazmat training across the country. Elmore County first responders may encounter any type of hazmat spill on any given day from diesel fuel due to wreckage or industrial truck or semi-truck carrying drums or barrels various hazardous materials.
But the greatest potential for a large hazardous material spill would come from a railroad accident. Considering that railroads are a vital link in our nation’s supply chain and must transport the large quantities of hazardous chemicals used to produce so many of the products we use, tanker trucks can hold thousands of gallons of chemicals that can potentially be harmful when released.
Large Class 1 railroads operate longer trains, sometimes two miles long, and these trains can carry all kinds of hazardous materials. The training involved in these sessions was in response to railway accidents. Departments without a rail line through their jurisdiction said training is still essential as many community responders help others during a major incident.
Coosada Fire Chief Billy Price said the training was vital to his department and appreciated the Association and the EMA office for helping set up the training. Price said: “We have five level crossings, as well as several miles of rail running through Coosada, with trains running every day. Should there be a rail accident, it is important that our department knows who to contact and how to handle any hazardous materials incident. This is important for the safety of our citizens and our stakeholders. Hazardous materials can be anything from flammables to water hazards that could affect waterways to airborne hazards that can be deadly to breathe. Knowing when and how far to evacuate is vital, Chief Price said.
The responders have certainly appreciated their education and training and will contribute to the safety and security of the citizens of Elmore County.