Mock Spill Exercise
Whether it involves athletics, music or board games, they say the only way to get better is to practice, practice, practice. Regardless how often HK staff perform a task, each event most likely offers a chance to analyze the situation and identify an opportunity to improve our performance.
At Hydro-Klean, team members take part in a myriad of training programs to learn the proper procedures and regulations for the services we provide. Still, nothing beats a controlled, mock incident to assess the team’s true skills. A portion of our team recently was fortunate enough to take part in just such a training exercise hosted by one of our ethanol plant customers.
A Devastated Workplace
Here is the scenario: A disgruntled employee detonates a small explosive device, then continues to wreak havoc by ramming a front end loader into rail car containing ethanol. The explosion causes chaos and confusion among the plant employees and leaves personnel unaccounted for in a smoke-filled, confined space. The explosion injures a second employee when he falls off a rail car. And finally in an ensuing altercation, the disgruntled employee stabs a good Samaritan who attempts to detain him.
The local EMS, police and fire departments responded to provide first aid, confined-space-entry rescue and crime scene management. Hydro-Klean addressed only the leaking ethanol rail car. We responded with our emergency response trailer, utility truck and liquid vacuum truck.
Supported by the fire department, two Hydro-Klean technicians applied a magnetic patch kit over the hole in the rail car and placed a floating containment boom where the drainage ditch flowed into the adjacent retention pond. The technicians then proceeded to the decontamination area before returning to the recovery area.
Following the jam-packed hour of excitement, plant and corporate personnel reviewed each portion of the incident with nearly a dozen agencies and companies. Each participating company received valuable feedback about its involvement and performance during the incident. Indeed, some mistakes were made, but it was better to have made them in a training exercise than during a real emergency.
Knowing the Hazards
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One of the most significant lesson to come out of the drill was the importance of making response personnel aware of and knowledgeable about the hazards present at any facility that requires their help. Each department requested at least annual facility tours and updates on significant changes. The plant personnel were quick to agree, knowing that the information likely could save lives in the event of a real emergency.