UPDATE: Huntington holds annual disaster drill

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UPDATE 10/29/16 5:25 p.m.
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Dozens of first responders and other agencies from Cabell and Wayne Counties came together Saturday to bring a table top mock scenario to full scale.

The Cabell-Wayne Local Emergency Planning Committee holds a mock disaster every year with different scenarios each year. This year’s scenario involved hazardous gas from a chlorine spill at West Virginia American Water’s location on 24th Street in Huntington.
“You hope it wouldn’t happen, but it could,” said WVAW spokeswoman Laura Martin.

In the scenario a deliberate act causes the chlorine that’s being transferred to its secure location in the building to spill, releasing the gas in the air and not just putting those at the scene at risk of injury, but the surrounding neighborhoods as well, as the cloud of hazardous gas travels through town.

Organizers say it’s also a good opportunity for crews who would respond to a scene to get familiar with the crews that would be on scene and improve on any hiccups.

“That’s the entire reason that we do this,” said Patricia Simmons with Cabell-Wayne Local Emergency Planning Committee. “We identify gaps and we look at what kind of new resources we might need, and we also look at are there trainings or new process that we need to establish.”

Simmons says when they pick a new situation each year they try to look at what kind of disaster scenarios have recently made headlines. Including the 2014 Freedom Industries incident where chemicals spilled into the Elk River in Kanawha County. Though the actual water in the drill wasn't contaminated it is still a concern for many West Virginians. A concern West Virginia American Water realizes and takes extra precautions to try to keep something like that from happening.

There are lots of precautions that are taken,” said Martin. “Lots of precautions that we have in place at our facility which is a secure facility. We have secure storage for our chlorine cylinders.”

Regardless of if the situation would play out in real life like it did the drill Simmons say’s being prepared is what it all about. Not just for crews responding, but the community as well.

It is absolutely the main goal to have the community as safe as it can be,” said Simmons. “One of our real important processes is to insure that we take what we learn in these exercises and we turn that into updated plans and updated procedures and updated processes.”



ORIGINAL STORY 10/28/16 @ 11:11 a.m.
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A community disaster drill will be held in Huntington Saturday.

The Cabell-Wayne Local Emergency Planning Committee will have a drill simulating a chlorine release from a local water treatment plant resulting in a mass causality event and evacuation of the community.

The drill, called "Rain, Rain Go Away, Please Don't Rain Today" will take place October 29 beginning at 9 a.m.

It will take place at West Virginia American Water's treatment plant on 24th street in Huntington.

It's designed to examine, discuss and demonstrate policy, procedures and coordination with responders and community partners.

According to a release, participants will include, but are not limited to, the Huntington Fire Department, West Virginia American Water, U.S. Coast Guard, Cabell County EMS, Cabell County 911, Cabell-Huntington Health Department, Huntington Police Department, St. Mary’s Medical Center, Cabell Huntington Hospital, the VA Medical Center in Spring Valley and River Park Hospital.



 
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