Emergency Services Agencies Hold Drill to Get Ready in Case of Real Emergency

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Published on October 1 2012 5:06 pm
Last Updated on July 14 2013 4:07 pm
Written by Greg Sapp

Two semis collide and both start leaking hazardous chemicals.  It's something that could certainly happen in Effingham, and that's why various emergency services agencies participated Monday morning in a tabletop exercise to be prepared in case the real thing occurs.

The almost four-hour exercise took place at the Central Fire Station in Effingham.  Effingham Fire Chief Joe Holomy said 31 city department heads and employees as well as representatives of various outside emergency services agencies took part in the exercise.  The Illinois Fire Service Institute put on the drill and the Illinois Emergency Management Agency participated as part of Effingham's reaccreditation with IEMA.

Holomy said the scenario involved two semis colliding on Keller Drive at an interstate onramp.  Both rigs overturned and started spilling their contents onto the roadway.  The liquid started flowing toward the interstate and down Keller Drive, affecting the various nearby businesses.  Four following cars were unable to stop and struck the semis and at least two occupants of each of the four vehicles were injured.

Keller was blocked as was the onramp and traffic started backing up in several directions.  There was enough wind that the fumes from the spilled cargo began to reach people farther from the accident scene.

When crews in the exercise began to discuss how to address the situation, two semis and a tour bus in the detour area created due to the crash were involved in an accident.  That crash hampered local law enforcement agencies from reaching the scene and kept crews sent to clean up the spills from getting there.

Once the scenario was fully unveiled, two groups began working on how to address the situation.  One was an EOC group that involved the various agency representatives, while an operations group consisted of city department representatives and officials from the hospital, nursing homes and other agencies.

City EMA Coordinator Kim Tegeler said the participants did well, but indicated some participants want to take some coursework and others indicated the participants need to talk to each other more to make themselves ready in case such a scenario would occur.