Over one hundred first responders and volunteers are assessing results of a large-scale two-day emergency drill conducted in Lincoln County this weekend. Beginning Friday night, police, fire, local hospitals, and others simulated an accident involving a truckful of sulfuric acid in Toledo, Oregon. Lincoln County's emergency management coordinator is Jenny Demaris.
She estimates 80 percent of the people involved in such scenarios are volunteers, and real-time drills like this are critical to make sure systems run smoothly. She was watching for everything from how first responders communicate to whether health agencies could quickly disperse information via social media about hazmat exposures. Evacuation practice is also a big part of the drill.
"For example, we had mass casualties, we had victims waiting," Demaris explains. "That put stress on the health care system. We have a community emergency response team, identifying a particular neighborhood. They literally went door to door, 'Hi, how are you, we're from...this is what would have been anticipated'."
Teams detailed how they'd help victims in shelters contact family members and identify symptoms of possible contamination.
Demaris says the county agencies worked extremely well together. She hopes communication time can be streamlined in future exercised.
Funding for the drill came from the state Fire Marshal's office.
This story originally appeared on Oregon Public Broadcasting.