Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk today participated in a demonstration of the county’s new abilities in responding to a chemical emergency that may present considerable dangers to communities and often challenge the most experienced and equipped response teams.
The event was held at the Alliant Energy Center grounds with firefighters, paramedics and other first responders from Dane County communities participating.
“Keeping our communities and citizens safe is all our jobs,” said Falk. “Using funds obtained from federal homeland security grants, Dane County purchased five trailers stocked with decontamination equipment. These ’decontamination trailers’ are currently housed at five fire departments located in Blooming Grove, McFarland, Middleton, Shorewood Hills and the Town of Madison. All or parts of the system can be deployed as needed to decontaminate a large number of individuals that may be exposed to chemical, biological or radiological materials, either from an accident or a terrorist event. This equipment also will be used in other types of emergencies as well, such as at fires or evacuations,” Falk said.
Over the past three years, Dane County has aggressively sought federal Homeland Security dollars for emergency preparedness equipment and training, receiving over $3 million to date.
Dane County Emergency Management, along with the Dane County Fire Chiefs Association and the City of Madison Fire Department developed the Emergency Mass Decontamination System. During chemical emergencies, firefighters and HAZMAT teams are called upon to recognize and identify involved chemicals, protect citizens, the community and the environment, determine control measures and restore order.
An additional significant challenge would be if the emergency exposed a large number of individuals to a chemical, either intentionally or accidentally, that would require immediate personal decontamination to lessen the effects of a chemical exposure and preserve lives.
This is the scenario that Dane County fire officials have been working on for the last two and a half years. The decontamination trailers would be dispatched to the scene of the emergency, and/or, if required, to a local hospital to assist in decontamination efforts for those individuals that may have self-presented.
Key individuals that have provided the leadership, time and commitment in the Decontamination initiative:
Glenn Linzmeier, Fire Chief
Blooming Grove Fire Department
Gary Garman, Fire Chief & Deputy Fire Chief Scott Miller
McFarland Fire Department
David Bloom, Fire Chief
Town of Madison Fire Department
Aaron Harris, Fire Chief
Middleton Fire Department
Tom DeMeuse, Fire Chief
Shorewood Hills Fire Department
Marcia Holtz, Division Chief, Special Operations
City of Madison Fire Department
Jerry Stein, President
Dane County Fire Chiefs Association
Madison Metropolitan Sewage District
Dane County Emergency Management