MASON COUNTY — Practice makes perfect and a mock disaster planned for this Saturday will prepare first responders should the real thing occur — specifically, a chemical release emergency.
This county-wide exercise, organized by the Mason County Local Emergency Planning Committee, with assistance from various agencies and individuals, will start around 8 a.m. and end at noon.
The scenario of the disaster is that a mishap has occurred at the Mountaineer Power Plant, releasing an unknown substance. This results in several victims being injured and responding emergency personnel must treat these victims, determining what caused the injuries while protecting themselves and the community.
During this exercise, many in the community may see realistic reenactments but should not be alarmed. Again, this a drill. The Mason County LEPC’s exercise is an unclassified exercise, focused on preparing emergency responders to effectively respond to chemical release incidents.
Also, the “patients” will be assessed and then treated at Pleasant Valley Hospital, according to Rex Troy, chairman of LEPC.
According to Matt Gregg, of Mason County OES, as part of the exercise, the agency’s response to the incident is examined, as well as its interaction with other agencies and assets that will respond. Evaluators offer comments, which are compiled in an After Action Report and Improvement Plan with recommendations for future training, equipment, and response procedures.
In a statement, organizers said this exercise helps to develop, sustain, and provide feedback on the proficiency in the tasks that make up critical emergency response operations. It is a learning opportunity for the responders to examine the unique aspects of responding to chemical release incidents.
Participating agencies and organizations are: Mason County LEPC, US Coast Guard, US EPA, West Virginia State Police, WV SERC – Homeland Security, Mason County OES, Mason County EMS, Mason County Sheriff’s Department, New Haven Fire Department, New Haven Police Department, Mason County Commission, AEP River Transportation, Host Simcell – AEP Mountaineer Plant.
The exercise director is David Thompson, vice chairman of LEPC and the Senior Controller/Safety Controller is Chuck Blake director of Mason County OES.
Information for this article submitted by Matt Gregg.