News: Ohio National Guard exercise tests multiple agencies
CHILLICOTHE, Ohio — Ross County public safety agencies and the Ohio National Guard conducted a multi-jurisdictional exercise, May 5, at Camp Sherman Joint Training Center.
The exercise began at 6:45 a.m. with a simulated steam pipeline explosion and partial structure collapse at the local Glatfelter paper mill. Local, state, federal agencies and the Ohio National Guard arrived at Camp Sherman to respond to the incident. The responders quickly set up equipment to begin training, and the event was immediately successful.
Training for participants focused on Camp Sherman's structural collapse simulator, a pile of concrete, rubble, old cars, and a school bus replicating what an explosion might do to an industrial facility. Responding first to the structural collapse the Chillicothe Fire Department determined that the explosion released potentially hazardous chemicals into the air.
"We were overwhelmed by the initial incident," said Jeff Creed fire chief for Chillicothe, also serving as the Incident commander. "We called in different support from the county and Ohio National Guard; they came in and integrated as part of our operation,"
"We did a hand-off for some of the responsibilities but maintained control, our staff has been working hand in hand with theirs, it's worked out real well," said Creed.
Another key participant was the Ohio National Guard’s Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear (CBRN), Enhanced Response Force Package (CERFP), a 186-person unit which rapidly deploys to perform search and extraction, mass patient decontamination, medical triage and patient stabilization before transportation to a local hospital or medical treatment facility.
"We understand the mission that we are here to save lives, and this exercise gives us an opportunity to work with our civilian counter parts to close gaps," said Lt. Col. David Mason Jr. 155 Chemical Company/CERFP commander
The exercise tested multiple agencies and ONG units, teaching valuable lessons for future exercises or a real incident.
"It's been a great learning experience," said Captain Joe Minney, Chillcothe Fire Department, "its nice to know the resources are available for a real incident and training."