November 30, 2012

Transportation disaster drill tested Whitfield response

Submitted by the Whitfield County Local Emergency Planning Committee

— The Whitfield County Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC) conducted a full-scale emergency drill Thursday at the North Georgia Fairgrounds on Legion Drive in Dalton.

This drill focused on a simulated transportation incident involving a hazardous chemical spill. The drill mock-up was that a 5-gallon container of propylene oxide leaked as it was transported by workers of a local chemical facility from storage to processing. Ten Dalton High School students role-played as the employees who had to be decontaminated on scene and then taken to Hamilton Medical Center.

As part of the drill, it was simulated that a nearby restaurant had been contaminated and six patrons had to be evacuated.

Propylene oxide is a colorless, flammable liquid that can be very toxic when inhaled.

Claude Craig, director of the Whitfield County Emergency Management Agency (EMA) and LEPC chairman said, “This transportation disaster drill brought together first responders, government agencies and private entities to test our ability to respond together in the event of a large scale emergency.”

Active participants with Whitfield County EMA in the drill included the Whitfield County Fire Department, Whitfield County EMS, Whitfield County Sheriff’s Office, Dalton Fire Department, Dalton Police Department, Hamilton Medical Center, North Georgia Health District, Whitfield Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), Whitfield County government, Whitfield County Schools, Dalton Public Schools and local businesses.

“Our partners did a good job today implementing the emergency plans we have spent years developing,” Craig stated. “We will now thoroughly review how well we responded and determine how we can make improvements.”