St. Joseph County uses simulation to prep for potential environmental disaster

NOW: St. Joseph County uses simulation to prep for potential environmental disaster

ST. JOSEPH COUNTY, Ind. - The recent train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio caused a toxic chemical spill and concerns of long-lasting environmental impacts.

That's why St. Joseph County is testing their readiness in the event of a hazardous materials incident here in our area. Earlier Wednesday, they simulated a major train derailment with the same chemical released in Ohio, called vinyl chloride. 

"What we’re doing is simulating which would be a real-life event really testing the system can we activate can we deploy, can we get together, get together the resources we need to mitigate this event," said Matt Dhoore, Division Chief.

Participants in the tabletop simulation Wednesday included local fire departments, hospitals, a hazmat team and even a drone among many other agencies and experts who all gathered at the County Emergency Operations Center in downtown South Bend.

"We’ve seen a few real disasters here recently, like which was mentioned earlier with East Palestine and obviously it’s traumatic for a community to suffer like that," said Mike Damiano, Assistant Chief Of Operations for the South Bend Fire Department.

St. Joseph County Emergency Management Director Buddy Kirsits said there are three important actions to take when dealing with a major hazardous materials incident... evacuate, contain, control, but when a train really derails, everyone needs to work together.

"It’s chaos, we got a lot more training to do, but we got a lot of great people with a lot of knowledge and we’re learning from each other," Kirsits said.

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