Written by Owen Magee Friday, 21 May 2010 00:00
Several local volunteer fire departments took part in a large-scale pre-planed hazardous materials drill on Sunday, May 16. The drill, hosted by the Massapequa FD, was run by the Nassau County Police Intelligence Section of Homeland Security, and has been in the planning stage for six months.
The drill site was at the Sunrise Mall in Massapequa on Sunrise Highway. A simulated incident involving an unknown chemical was reported to 911 on Sunday morning May 16 at 8:15 a.m., trapping and injuring an unknown number of people, played by 40 “volunteer victims”. The Massapequa F.D. responded first and requested assistance as it would in a real emergency.
Responding agencies were the haz-mat units of the Nassau County Fire Marshal, Nassau County Police, Hicksville Fire Dept., Wantagh Fire Dept., haz-mat decontamination units of the Levittown F.D., Bethpage F.D., the Plainview and South Farmingdale haz-mat EMS units, and the Nassau County Fire Marshal’s decontamination trailer. Several other nearby fire units were also on hand if needed.
The exercise lasted a little over two hours. Appointed observers were on hand to oversee how all the agencies came together as one team. The “victims” were evacuated, decontaminated, treated and transported as required. The four haz-mat teams entered the hot zone, found and identified the material and mitigated the incident.
In the past year, the Nassau County Fire Commission brought together various fire departments to form a unified regional group to handle any type of hazardous materials emergencies in the county. The Nassau County Office of Emergency Management under Commissioner Callahan was able to procure equipment grants for the above-mentioned group through the N.Y.S. Office of Homeland Security. One such grant was for new portable radios that now enable all the groups to communicate with each other. There are other grants in the pipeline for other emergency equipment. Other drills are being planned at all levels in the coming months.