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Richland County EMA EXERCISE with Ohio Air Guard

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Joe Harwood
  • 179th Airlift Wing Public Affairs Office
Richland County Emergency Management Agency (EMA) organized an exercise at the Mansfield Lahm Airport in Mansfield, Ohio, April 29, 2015. The agency asked the Ohio Air National Guard (ANG) to play the role of victim in which the 179th Airlift Wing (AW) has a chemical spill and requires outside assistance. The 179th AW agreed to participate with the county training scenario and hosted the exercise at the facility.
179th AW Fire Chief, Senior Master Sgt. Roger Burton, assisted in the exercise for the Air National Guard base fire department during this exercise said "This county-wide exercise allows us to work with our counterparts off of this installation and evaluate who has different capabilities and resources to bring to the scene so in the event of a real emergency we can jump in and work together seamlessly."
179th AW Fire Department responded to a real life accident, on April 9, 2015, the where two trucks collided causing a chemical spill in Ontario, Ohio. Responding to that situation gave experience to both local responders and the ANG working together.
Burton continued, "This training benefits us all, gives a different perspective. We are familiar with integrating our people with community first responders off of our installation but they do not usually train to respond to an incident on our installation. This scenario is uniquely brings local responders out and gives them a better feel of how we operate versus what they are used to doing. Overall, it gives us and other county agencies an opportunity to come together and figure out how we can best work together"
The scenario of any chemical spill will bring out many agencies, each playing its own role and training to work with the others. Real chemical spills require a great deal of caution to ensure safety of both the first responders and anyone in the vicinity. Environmental concerns of waterways and residential areas are all considered. Bringing all these factors together to properly contain the situation takes a great deal of coordination. Bringing them all together on a controlled military installation adds to the complexity of the scenario.
Richland County EMA Director, Mike Bailey, said "This is an interaction between many agencies in preparation, should something happen in Richland County. It is very important to have the ability to understand the operations and communicate between agencies so that they can interact with maximum resources and efficiency." Bailey continued, "In this scenario, we have a chemical incident at the Air Guard base with first responders coming on to the installation to assist. We have a HAZMAT team, Sheriffs, local police departments, volunteer fire departments, the Red Cross, among others that may be involved to assist in such a scenario. Practice makes perfect and the goal is to evaluate and grade our training performance in a positive way to identify areas where we could improve our response."
Rick Evans, Deputy Director for Richland County EMA, said "This is the functional portion of our 2015 drill for Richland County, testing our emergency operations plan for the HAZMAT portion of this scenario, along with our communication, Public Information Offices, ancillary commands.  The state evaluator was here evaluating the whole operation catching any glitches that arise.  All the agencies did  a great job working together to mitigate the simulated situation and so everything has worked out pretty well today."
Bailey pointed out the amount of effort that goes into the planning for such an event, saying "The design team is composed of many different members of the community, including representatives from the Air Guard and all the local responders, I want to thank all of them for the hard work and hopefully everybody will take something away from this today they can improve upon and take it back to their agencies to go from there."