What if tanker ruptured? 'We'd be ready,' says Llewelyn
The rollover of a tank truck hauling diesel fuel near the county's principal water supply last week raises a question:
What if the tank had ruptured, and thousands of gallons of fuel spilled over the highway and into the wetlands around Scofield Reservoir?
"We could probably handle one tank truck," states Jason Llewelyn, Emergency Services and Homeland Security Director for Carbon County. If the spill were any bigger, he would have to call in for more help, he continues.
Help from where?
From any one of the seven counties in Eastern Utah, he answers. Or the state. Or the federal government.
Mr. Llewelyn has their numbers, and they have his. It demonstrates the sophistication and coordination of emergency response that have been continuing since 9-11.
He cites as a case in point the range fire that threatened cabins at Scofield last year. All in all, 37 different agencies representing city, county, state and federal responders were involved. Together, they beat back the blaze.
Coordinating such a diverse group is no easy task, but at least it is not as confusing as it would have been years ago, when the technology and teamwork were simply not there.
"We have become tons more efficient," Mr. Llewelyn states. That is a result of federal and state efforts to encourage - and fund - a host of improvements in equipment, training and interagency communication. For example, Carbon County has a dozen fully-certified hazardous materials technicians among its fire departments and law enforcement agencies. "They could go anywhere in the country where they are needed," he says.
Now under way is a comprehensive inventory in the seven Eastern Utah counties that will assess all the skills, equipment and personnel for all levels of response. A city or county be left unprotected if all of its own emergency responders are called out on some disaster. If Helper, Price, Wellington and county firefighters must combat a blaze like the Scofield fire, departments from surrounding companies can drive their trucks to Carbon to fill in the gaps where needed.
Training and teamwork would go nowhere without an effective communication system, Mr. Llewelyn explains. That is why the Carbon County Sheriff's Department has two mobile command centers. One of them is a 54-foot converted motor home, the other a trailer and diesel tow truck for areas where the motor home cannot go. Both are loaded with state-of-the art communications gear.
During the Crandall Canyon mine disaster, Gov. Jon Huntsman, Senators Orrin Hatch and Bob Bennett, and federal officials were able to conduct daily teleconferences with the White House on the situation from the command post, Mr. Llewelyn says.