Penn. Co. agencies conduct hazmat exercise

Regional emergency agencies cooperated in a chemical clean-up drill.

Ellsworth Air Force Base’s 82nd Civil Support Team, Rapid City Fire Department and Pennington County Emergency Management (PCEM) brought all hands on deck for an all-day hazardous materials exercise at Black Hills Energy on Wednesday.

Two teams with two HazMat technicians each reviewed an objectives-based scenario involving a mock explosives laboratory. Crews methodically assessed the situation and developed tactics to approach the danger.

The three groups first formed a perimeter around the lab. RCFD and the Civil Support Team established a quarantine zone and designated “hot” and “cold” regions around the threat – “hotter” areas being the most dangerous and closest in proximity.

A Hazardous Materials Emergency Response team then worked to identify explosive substances.

The agencies also reviewed strategies to develop teamwork skills between the responders.

PCEM Director Dustin Willett said that the interagency cooperation polished communication and procedure operations in equal measure.

“The HazMat technicians, regardless of which agency they’re working for, are building those relationships,” Willett said. “The incident commanders and the officers are building camaraderie – it’s relationship building – and, truly, that relationship building sometimes is even more crucial than some of the procedural stuff.”

While the drills were treated like real emergencies, they did not impact traffic in the area.

Categories: Local News, South Dakota News