With a practice train and hard hats, Jackson County is preparing for the worst. A fake chemical spill and dummy victims met them on-site of a staged emergency. When hazardous waste spews, officials get suited and booted. Jackson County first responders are running a drill to prepare for a hazmat train situation.
Derek Etheridge of the Moss Point Fire Department says, "Training days like these is really well needed for the fire department to keep us prepared to save lives." Although this drill was planned months ago, it's not a second too soon after 18 train cars carrying chemicals were derailed in Mississippi earlier this year. Thursday, city and county first responders are handling a similar chemical spill situation.
Chris Machenberg, the Hazardous Materials Manager for CSX, says, "It’s a great opportunity for us as a railroad to get to meet the first responders." Earl Etheridge, the Director of Jackson County Emergency Services, says, “This is just to help us just in case we ever have a future incident, we’ve got some good training behind us.”
Thursday's drill involved about 25 trainees from different Jackson County first response agencies, who worked to block the leak and save the victims inside the train. Randall Platt of Jackson County Fire Protection says, “So far, we're doing good. Got three victims out, got them deconned, sent them off the hospital.” For Platt, Thursday was a successful, but tough practice. Platt also says, "It’s okay. It’s good training, something to bring us back. We do it once a year."
The local Emergency Planning Committee hosted the drill funded by a M.E.M.A. grant to keep all the Jackson County first responders on their toes. CSX and Mississippi Export Railroads donated the railroad facility for the extensive training.