First responders prepared for calls
Imagine being a firefighter, a police officer or emergency medical responder racing to the scene of a 911 call, a fearsome plume of bluish, black smoke rising over the landscape ahead.
Quite likely, there would be rising concern, too, among all those around, who would quite naturally worry about hazardous materials that might be at the scene, whether anything explosive might be there, and what might happen if chemicals that aren't supposed to be mixed somehow get that way.
It's no time to be completely in the dark.
Fortunately, lots of planning has taken place at all levels federal, state and local to try to prevent just such a worrisome scenario. At a meeting last week of the Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC) of Stephens County, Tom Bergman, a specialist from the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), offered an update. He spoke about places in the county where responders might expect to encounter potentially hazardous materials, what kinds and what quantities of materials are stored and much more, including how information critical to have in an emergency can be very quickly and easily accessed.
About 50 professionals, including firefighters, police and sheriff's deputies, hospital representatives, industry partners and others gathered at the Stephens County Fairgrounds for the meeting. Most probably were well aware already that they face the possibility of encountering hazardous materials every day on the job. Many may not have known, however, that Stephens County has more potentially hazardous sites than most other counties. There were 1,399 counted last year, Bergman said.
"The oil-producing counties always have a lot more," he said.