Lexington first responders train for chemical disaster
“All things are ready if our minds be so,” King Henry V says at one point in Shakespeare’s play.
Lexington firefighters applied that quote to themselves Wednesday. They and other agencies participated in a mock disaster drill that tested their readiness to treat victims who had been exposed to chemical agents from Blue Grass Army Depot in Madison County.
In a decontamination area at Jacobson Park off Richmond Road in southeast Lexington, the volunteer “victims” — actually fire and law enforcement students from Eastside Technical Center — went through tents where they showered and were then “scanned” to see if they were clean of chemicals. In a real emergency, victims would have to be decontaminated before they could go to a hospital, said Capt. Darrin Day of the Lexington Fire Department.
“We’ve got a plan on paper, but you actually have to get out, put the rubber to the road, and walk through it,” Day said. “It’s good for us every year to test our capabilities and see where we’re weak. It also lets us see what we need equipment-wise. It keeps us on our toes.”
The scenario also involved some surprises, such as a report of a train derailment near Shillito Park on Lexington’s south side. (Don’t freak, readers; there was no actual derailment.)
“Instead of just running through this drill, they will also throw other things our way to see what our capabilities are,” Day said. “If something else takes place, how are we going to deal with that when we’re really spread thin? The solution for us is to call off-duty personnel.”
Wednesday’s exercise had been scheduled before the weekend bombings in New York and New Jersey, Day said.