WEST ELKTON — The Preble County Local Emergency Planning Committee’s (LEPC) most recent hazardous materials exercise was held at West Elkton Fire Department on Saturday, June 1.
The event brought together Gratis and West Elkton emergency personnel to train for a hazmat situation.
According to EMA Director Dave Anderson, it is required by the State of Ohio that all county LEPCs hosts trainings of the Preble County Hazmat Plan once a year. Those exercises can be tabletop, functional, or full scale. This year’s event was a tabletop training.
LEPC is required to host of one each type and one of choice within a four year span. Preble County has to have a functional and a full scale exercise in the next two years.
The two fire departments which participated in the exercise were meant to follow their Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) or Standard Operating Guidelines (SOGs) to handle the situation that was presented in front of them. They were then rated by evaluators present. The evaluators were made up of people in the county who are familiar with the departments and could appropriately critique their handling of the situation.
Preble County must have a score of 50 percent-plus one from the LEPC exercise. However, according to Anderson, if they did not receive that score, it is “not a big deal.” The State does not like to use pass or fail, instead they use concurrence or non-concurrence. Concurrence is if the players score 50 percent plus one of the objectives. If they do not, that is considered a non-concurrence. In that case, Preble County will have to take a corrective action, which could be a change in guidelines or additional training sessions.
The scores for Preble County LEPC Exercise will be released within the next several months, but Anderson is confident in the agencies which participated.
“The tabletop is really difficult for firefighters to do, because they’re do-ers and in the tabletop you have to verbalize everything you’re doing or supposed to be doing. A lot of the times, on the scene, you don’t think, you just do it. I have to have a power point presentation and try to get them to verbalize what they are going to do in this situation. That is how we find out if they did their job correctly or not. A lot of the answers come from plain discussion,” Anderson said.
“They did very well in the exercise. They were attentive, they talked through all the things we threw at them. They came up with answers I felt were pertinent to their SOGs. The other thing is, things that they didn’t know, the facilitator was able to teach them what they needed to know. It is not just a test, but training as well. A lot of times they don’t have time to do training on their own, but this way they can see what they’re good at and are able to utilize this training time to better everybody.”
Emergency Management Coordinator Sam Reed was also present to witness the exercise. Reed works with the Southwest Regional Supervisor. He is an extension of State Emergency Response Commission (SERC), who is responsible for overseeing the county LEPCs.
The facilitator for the event was Dave McDermitt, who has been a firefighter for Greenville for approximately 25-30 years and retired as the assistant fire chief last year.
Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH