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Front Page » May 25, 2004 » Local News » Price city evacuated in simulated emergency
Published 3,746 days ago

Price city evacuated in simulated emergency


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By KEN LARSON
Sun Advocate publisher


Committee chair Patsy Huff from the public health department oversaw the simulated emergency preparedness scenario.

The simulated emergency preparedness phone call came to 911 like any call.

The 911 emergency training call indicated there was a truck accident on Hospital Drive and hazardous material known as magnesium aluminum phosphide spilled.

The chemical, known in technical terms as number 1419, emits toxic fumes, is ground hugging and bursts into frames when wet.

The dispatcher calmly took the information and let the law enforcement officer on duty know that rain was expected within 15 minutes.

The situation and response tactics will change dramatically when the rain begins.

Within minutes, the report came to the Active Re-entry center as a conference was being conducted where several people with disabilities were gathering.

Active Re-Entry is located on Hospital Drive, blocks away from the mock accident scene.

Sitting around the table were individuals in wheelchairs, a visually impaired lady and someone with hearing disabilities, representing a handful of the total number of residents with special needs who live in Carbon County.

It was obvious that there was not enough time to go door-to-door to evacuate all the people with disabilities in the area.

The dispatchers informed the health department and local authorities on the scene that they needed to evacuate everyone within a 1.23 mile radius, which included the entire city of Price.

Dennis Dooley, a county emergency preparedness official, reminds local residents to be prepared in the case of an emergency situation.

Rain started falling within minutes of the drill mishap and, once water hits aspill, the entire area will erupt into flames.

The simulated emergency situation was not a true scenario occurring in the county.

The local public safety dispatch center did not handle the 911 call and local authorities were not involved in an actual incident. But although the accident did not happen in Price, a similar incident occurred on Interstate 15 at Mona near Nephi one year ago.

According to Dennis Dooley who works with the emergency preparedness committees in Carbon County, local residents need to be prepared to handle similar situations.

Billons of tons of hazardous materials travel over the railroad tracks and highways in Carbon County every day "and we cannot fool around. We need to know what is traveling through and how to respond to it should there be an accident," said Dooley.

The committee that met Thursday and discussed the scenario is chaired by Patsy Huff from the Southeastern Utah Health District. Huff is working with local agencies dealing with people with special needs or disabilities.

It is important to know the people who are living in Carbon County and what their special needs are so the information could be entered into a data base and easily assessed should an emergency happen like the scenario described, explained Huff.

The gathering last Thursday pulled in several of the local agencies. As the representatives from the agencies heard the facts and responded, they realized several things went correctly in the scenario and identified the things that went wrong. The simulation exercise showed the group the importance of pre-planning.

"We were extremely pleased with the discussion. No one panicked, the information received by 911 was clear and concise and everyone acted quickly," explained Huff. "We got a good picture of the importance of establishing a data base of people with disabilities or special needs."

The group meets monthly to discuss evacuation plans and strategic planning around people with special needs. For more information contact Patsy Huff at the Health Department at 637-3671.


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