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Saturday, Apr. 30, 2016

Training exercise tests multiple agencies

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Monett Police Sergeant Dennis Camp, Officer Jeff Martinson and Barry County Sheriff's Department Deputy Brian Martin prepared to enter a storage building at the Monett wastewater plant to subdue a "gunman" as part of a training exercise on Saturday. Monett Police Officer Jerrod Jarvis (playing the "gunman") is visible at the door.
(Photo by Kristin Nama)
It was just a drill. That was the reassuring announcement made several times Saturday morning as fire, police, ambulance and other local agencies gathered at the Monett Wastewater Treatment Plant to practice various techniques that might be needed in case of a possible hazardous materials contamination.

The purpose of the recent Wastewater Treatment Plant Drill was to test procedures, policies and operating guidelines. The scenario included an armed suspect, a deceased employee at the site and an injured and contaminated employee who "self presented" at the Cox Monett Hospital emergency room. The hazardous materials were a simulated release of a toxic gas and toxic liquid concentrate.
Shane Anderson, training officer for Monett Fire Department, and Bonnie Witt-Schulte, 911 supervisor for the Monett Police Department, contacted Dave Compton, director of the Barry County Office of Emergency Management, about doing an exercise in Monett.

Anderson and Witt-Schulte worked very hard to put the training together, Compton said. Anderson said exercises like this are valuable experience and he has found observing other departments' training exercises are "almost as good" as having one.

Police, fire and EMS were dispatched by Monett 911 Communications to the water treatment plant with the understanding that it was a drill. Those involved were advised of a shooting with a hazmat (hazardous material) release. The simulated hazmat release was said to be caused by altercation with a "shooter" at the water treatment plant.

Meanwhile, a wastewater employee (subject one), played by volunteer Lanese Witt-Schulte, "self presented" to the Cox Monett emergency room with a simulated gunshot wound and hazmat contamination.

An armed suspect (subject two), played by Monett Police Officer Jerrod Jarvis, was found lying in the doorway of a chemical storage building. The shooter in the scenario had gone to the wastewater plant seeking anhydrous ammonia for making methamphetamine. The shooter became angry with the two employees he found in the storage building, not believing that they didn't have any of the chemical he wanted, and he proceeded to shoot them both. Subject one escaped and made her way to the hospital. Subject three, "Lucky," was unfortunately deceased at the scene. Lucky is a training mannequin that has been used in training for various rescues including confined spaces and steep rope rescue. He is supposed to weigh 150 pounds, but some of those who have trained with him say he feels heavier.
Monett Police Sergeant Dennis Camp, Officer Jeff Martinson and Barry County Sheriff's Department Deputy Brian Martin were the first to enter the storage building to subdue the shooter. The gunman was killed by Sergeant Camp in the scenario.

Martin stated the officers did not have a choice, because the shooter would not put his gun down.

"He picked the outcome," Martin said.

With the gunman no longer a threat, the police advised the fire department and EMS to enter the scene. The first of two hazmat crews entered the storage building to remove the gunman and Lucky, playing the part of the deceased employee, for decontamination. Everyone who entered the building, including the police and hazmat teams, had to go through decontamination.

The first team of suited hazmat technicians removed the victims and sized up the scene, but they do not have enough air to also do the clean up, Anderson said.

The second team's job was to stop the leaking chemicals and make the building safe. To accomplish this, they brought in a chemical kit, capped off the bottle and neutralized the chemicals. A standard kit is used internationally for this type of cylinder. The team also simulated putting lime down on floor to make it safe from the spilled liquid chemical. A third party would come in to do the final clean up.

The biggest questions of the day were safety and priority, Anderson said. For safety the police entered the building in special suits (simulated because they are very expensive) to secure the scene. That step is crucial, according to Anderson, because it doesn't do any good to have hazmat technicians enter the building to deal with the toxic chemicals if they get shot in the process.

All the Hazmat technicians in the fire department have real world experience and all but one are internationally certified, Anderson said. They had done clean ups out of Kansas City, worked major spills and have cleaned up after meth labs, homicides and suicides

"This is a very professional department," said Anderson "I'm proud of every one of those guys. And lady,"

Fire Captain Danny Fowler, an arson investigator and OPS level responder, was the evaluator of the exercise for the fire department. Monett Police Chief Tim Schweder was the evaluator for the police department.

Agencies involved in this training included: the Monett Fire Department; Monett wastewater personnel; the Monett Police Department; Monett 911 Communications; Monett Fire/Hazmat; Barry-Lawrence Ambulance Services; Cox Monett Hospital; Barry County Emergency Management; and the City of Monett Emergency Management.

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