Emergency Rescue Units Rehearse Disaster Drill


(Le Mars) — Rescue units responded to an accident Wednesday evening that occurred on the northeast side of town. The accident involved a passenger car that had struck a pick-up truck towing an anhydrous ammonia tank causing
an ammonia leak. Fortunately, the described scenario was just a training drill, and not an actual emergency. The joint training session involved the Le Mars Fire and Rescue Department, the Le Mars Police Department, the Le Mars Ambulance Services, and the Plymouth County Emergency Management Services. Although the accident was staged, Plymouth County Emergency
Management Services Director Duane Walhof says it could easily happen in Le Mars.

Walhof says everyone involved with the simulated disaster performed professionally, and admirably. He says he was watching to see if all the involved entities performed the four major objectives.

The County Emergency Management Director says he was impressed with how everyone performed their duties during the simulated emergency.

Le Mars Fire Chief Dave Schipper was evaluating the performance of the fire and rescue team, as opposed to assuming command of the scenario.

Schipper says when rescue units arrive at a hazardous materials scene, they need to act differently than with other vehicle accidents.

The Le Mars Fire Chief says once a victim is removed from the immediate danger zone, then rescue workers will decontaminate the victim before transporting the victim to a local hospital.

To add to the realism of the emergency drill, theatrical smoke was used to simulate ammonia. Firefighters were equipped with hazardous material suits when they approached the scene.

Schipper says the objective for any hazardous materials emergency is to render the victims safe, make certain the immediate area is safe, then to secure the neighborhood and community as being safe.

Schipper says if it had been an actual emergency, police officers would be used to notify people they would need to evacuate their homes.   Le Mars mayor, Dick Kirchoff, watched the disaster drill demonstration, and thanked each of the Community’s Public Safety members involved with the drill.