Discussion of upcoming courses and a presentation on handling hazardous material were the highlight of the Nov. 19 Local Emergency Planning District (LEPD) meeting in Monett.
Personnel with the Monett Fire Department attended the meeting to provide a power-point presentation on hazardous material (hazmat) training and certification requirements.
According to fire department personnel, continued hazmat training is necessary to remain in compliance with new state and federal guidelines.
Personnel with the Monett Fire Department recently held a drill exercise at Monett's water treatment facility. The scenario included an individual acting as an armed methamphetamine addict demanding anhydrous ammonia, an accidental release of chlorine and fluoride and a city employee being killed.
The objective of the drill was to evaluate Cox Monett Hospital's response to an unsuspected hazmat situation, the police department's ability to subdue the suspect without cross-contamination and emergency medical service personnel's response time.
Future drills will include a simulated rail-car chlorine release and a hazardous material release in a confined space.
Since new hazmat standards require technicians to be a member of a "recognized team," LEPD Director David Compton said the ultimate goal is to have all fire personnel in Barry and Lawrence counties certified in handling hazardous material.
Some of the benefits of reaching that goal will include a decreased response time, an increased scope of training exercises and more hazmat technicians.
At present, the City of Monett has the only recognized team in the area. Compton pointed out that area fire personnel from other departments outside of Monett can also become part of the team and obtain team member status once requirements are met.
According to Compton, Purdy and Aurora currently have fire personnel who are trained hazmat technicians. In addition, Lawrence County Sheriff Brad DeLay has attended hazmat training.
In regard to the Miller and Mt. Vernon fire departments, Compton expressed concern since no fire personnel have been trained to handle hazardous materials.
Compton said some of the things the LEPD can do to help include:
* Encouraging all fire personnel in Lawrence and Barry counties to attend operation level training courses.
* Updating hazmat equipment through grant resources.
* Encouraging technician team participation from mutual aid departments.
* Providing funding for haz-mat team physicals through the use of Chemical Emergency Preparedness Funds (CEPF).
In December 2008, the Missouri Emergency Response Commission (MERC) approved the use of CEPF for haz-mat team member's physicals, which then gave the LEPC the ability to fund haz-mat physicals that meet OSHA medical surveillance guidelines.
In other business, the LEPD discussed numerous upcoming training courses for handling hazardous material and the possibility of hosting a class for Barry and Lawrence counties on propane gas emergencies.
For more information on training courses, contact the LEPD at 235-0200.