Thursday, June 11, 2009


Elyria Township – A hazardous materials release during the transportation phase is the number two emergency response threat in Lorain County – only being surpassed by severe weather. Many millions of pounds of hazardous materials cross Lorain County each day by rail and highway. Tom Kelley, Lorain County Emergency Management / Homeland Security Director said that we must be ready to respond to these types of calls.

“Each year, this agency and the emergency response organizations in Lorain County are required by state law to conduct an emergency drill involving some type of hazardous materials emergency response,” said Kelley. “The drills occur in a four-year cycle, and we are in the fourth year for our local drills.”

This year the drill was be held Thursday night in the north parking lot of the Elyria Schools Administration Building on Griswold Road. A hazardous materials release from a vehicle was simulated and the emergency forces had to respond to, identify, take all necessary actions, handle media inquires, and mitigate the release.

Chief Wayne Eppley of the Elyria Township Fire Department graciously offered to be the “first-in” department and was in charge of the response. The Lorain County Hazardous Materials Response Team, which is made up of fire fighters from every department in the county, was on scene to attempt to stop the release. A large number of other responders and vehicles were also be part of this exercise.
“A portion of the state requirements for this year is to show our local ability to provide “mass care and sheltering” during an evacuation. The county has an agreement with the Lorain County Chapter of the American Red Cross to provide these services in the event that an evacuation is necessary during any emergency,” Kelley said. “In order to accomplish this requirement we sent a letter to residents around the neighborhood and invited them to participate by playing the part of evacuees.”

The Red Cross set up an evacuation shelter in the old cafeteria area of the school administration building during the drill. In order for them to realistically operate the shelter, families were asked to go to the shelter set-up and register as evacuees. They were only asked to meet with a Red Cross volunteer and complete a short paper registration form. After that was completed, they were provided with a snack and a fun, educational evening.

Kelley said the drill was successful and was grateful to all the departments that participated.

Neighbors who participated and watched said it was very interesting and more importantly they said it was good to see that Lorain County is prepared in case something happens.

Photos by: BRIAN WOODS


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