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Emergency Responders Drill for Mass Decontamination Event - abc27 WHTM

Emergency Responders Drill for Mass Decontamination Event

Emergency Responders Drill for Mass Decontamination Event

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It's a process made highly visible following the 9-11 attack in New York City: the mass decontamination of people and vehicles from toxic material and substances.

Today, mass decontamination drills are a part of emergency responder training all across the nation, including one recently in Chambersburg.

The exercise drew area fire fighters and emergency personnel who gained first hand experience in setting up and caring for a large group of hazardous material victims.

For this single pumper exercise, a fan spray nozzle provided what would be a wash-down corridor for both victims and emergency personnel on the scene.

Franklin County Director of Emergency Services, David Donohue, said these exercises are crucial to effectively handling a real emergency.

"They happen so rarely, we need to train ourselves and be focused on them," said Donohue.

"They are not something that we can draw a lot of experience from because they do not happen very often."

Hazmat instructor Tom Buchan said a proper wash-down is key to effectively treating those exposed to hazardous materials.

"They should stay in the spray at least a minute to make sure they are getting adequate decontamination," said Buchan. "To get all the contaminants off."

Although large contamination episodes are rare, those on the front lines say they want to be ready to handle them.

"Hopefully, this kind of incident doesn't materialize," said Waynesboro fire fighter, Keith Carbaugh, "but we need to be prepared for it."

"Whether it's a fire or hazardous material spill," said Donohue, "the goal is to end up with the same number of victims that we start with."
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