HazMat by Rail Exercise 2016
August 29, 2016
Representatives from 58 different entities from around central Alabama participated in a 3-day tabletop HazMat exercise held in Hoover, AL August 23-25, 2016. This combined exercise was funded by a US DOT Emergency Planning grant program administered by Alabama EMA. The exercise focused on the derailment of a train carrying hazardous material, specifically crude oil, in three different counties. This was the first time these agencies had trained together in this type of exercise through their respective county EMA's across central Alabama. These disaster situations may well necessitate the mutual aid support by hazardous material teams in multiple counties.
On the first day the derailment exercise scenario was based in Jefferson County, the second Shelby County, and the third Tuscaloosa County. This gave first responders from each county a chance to take the lead on their home field during the early stages of the incident. Local, state, federal, and industry trained together in the exercise.
Tuscaloosa area entities that attended included Tuscaloosa Fire & Rescue Service, Northport Police Department, Lakeview Volunteer Fire Department, Northstar Paramedic Services, University of Alabama Police, University of Alabama Emergency Preparedness, Tuscaloosa County Public Works Department, TCSS Schools, Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH), Hunt Refining Company, Phifer Incorporated, Alabama Department of Environmental Management, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, CSX, Watco Companies/Alabama Southern Railroad, Norfolk Southern Corp., West Alabama Chapter of the American Red Cross, Catholic Social Services of West Alabama, and others.
Tabletop exercises provide groups that respond to emergency situations a way to sit down and talk about the procedures they would go through in a discussion based format. This gives them the chance to identify issues they may not have accounted for or to reinforce the efficiency and thoroughness of their response procedures. The bulk of an exercise covers the execution of responding to the scenario. This is followed up with a review where participants discuss what was done well or what areas need improvement.