Firefighters, military simulate toxic emergency (with video)
Firefighters cloaked in lime green plastic suits scurried around the Martis Valley fire station Thursday drilling for the rescues and evacuations necessary in case of a local chemical or biological attack.
The firefighters are part of the Eastern and Central Hazardous Materials Teams, and were joined by the military’s 95th Civil Support Team out of Hayward.
“What we’re doing is we’re training with the Civil Support Team so that we will understand how they work, and they will understand how we work,” said Gene Welch, the Truckee Fire Protection District’s public safety and information officer. “So in the event of a real emergency where they would actually be dispatched, it won’t be all new to everyone.”
The support team consists of 22 personnel and a commander from various branches of the military service. There are 54 identical teams throughout the country, and members are prepared to respond to any Weapons of Mass Destruction emergency, including chemical, biological and radiological weapons as well as explosives, Welch said.
Fire department officials responded to the drill first by entering the intoxicated area, evacuating the victims, and going through a detoxification station. Team members then reported to the military support group with an assessment of the situation. The 95th Civil Support Team subsequently entered the hot zone to evaluate the conditions and determine a solution.
Observers followed each team throughout the drill to assess their accuracy in identifying and responding to the toxic agent. “We’re making sure everyone’s comfortable with the level of training on each side,” Welch said. “We trade information back and forth and point out each other’s weaknesses, as well as strengths so we can learn from each other.”
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