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Hazmat drill helps Forsyth authorities prep for emergencies

Photo gallery

To view a photo gallery from the hazmat training exercise, click here.                                          

CUMMING — The Forsyth County Fire Department and other local public safety personnel conducted a hazardous materials drill Thursday in downtown Cumming.

The exercise was held at the Dahlonega Street offices of AT&T, whose Network Disaster Recovery organization organized the event. The communications company conducts about 10 of these scenarios each year, but this was the first in Forsyth County.

The exercise helped local fire, emergency management, law enforcement and Northside Hospital-Forsyth personnel prepare for a real-life hazmat situation. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency also took part.

“This drill [was] intended to challenge both our technical skills as a fire department but also the preparedness and skills of our private, contracted emergency medical services provider,” said Forsyth Fire Division Chief Jason Shivers.

“Advanced Ambulance and its personnel [trained] with our fire department troops in a cohesive effort to hone our ability to mitigate such incidents and properly care for injuries.” 

According to officials, the exercise focused on: on-site incident command; multi-agency coordination and communications; and techniques on working in areas that have been contaminated by hazardous materials.

Using protective equipment including fully encapsulated suits, personnel entered the facility and practiced the type of monitoring and damage assessment tasks required if the building had been contaminated.

Participants had to recognize and identify hazardous substances, implement a response plan and evaluate the environmental impact and residents’ protection.

“In the event that we do have to come in for an actual incident it’ll be so much easier to come in and get the things done that you need to do [after this drill],” said Kevan Parker with AT&T.