MARTINSBURG, W.Va. --
The 167th Airlift Wing, with assistance from the United States Environmental Protection Agency, conducted a hazardous material exercise here, Oct. 26.
The wing’s emergency management office, bioenvironmental engineering office and the fire department participated in the training scenario created and facilitated by the EPA.
“This is the first time that emergency management, bio and the fire department have trained together on this type of response, which is how we would respond to a real world incident. We stepped through it slowly.” Tech. Sgt. Jennifer Blood, the wing’s emergency manager, said.
Christine Wagner, an on-scene coordinator for the EPA, and Jose Redmond, a remedial project manager for the EPA, were the exercise facilitators.
In the scenario, two 55-gallon drums found abandoned near the 167 AW installation were brought onto the base and began fuming after heavy storms passed through the area. The drums contained glacial acetic acid, a solid crystal that fumes when it comes in contact with water. It is flammable, corrosive and combustible.
The fire department responded to the scene, set up a command post and established various safety zones to reduce accidental spread of hazardous material. They also performed medical assessments on the Airmen who would be donning HazMat suits to mitigate the hazard.
Three Airmen from the emergency management office and one from the bioenvironmental office, donned level-A HazMat suits to respond to the fuming drum.
The first two-person team performed recon of the drums and surrounding areas. The second two-person team sealed the fuming drum into an over-pack container.
The fire department decontaminated the HazMat suits with water hoses from their trucks.
At the conclusion of the exercise, Wagner praised the Airmen’s efforts.
“You did a good hazard assessment. You recognized that you wouldn’t need to go to level-A suits but made the decision to go level-A for the training,” Wagner said. “For only having four people, you had a well-thought out response,” she said.
Blood said the training exercise strengthens the wing’s emergency responders’ domestic operations capabilities and enhances the relationship with local emergency responders.