Hazardous Simulation

[media-credit id=13 align=”alignright” width=”300″][/media-credit]The high pitch of an alarm reverberated through University Village dormitories as its hallways filled with smoke.

“You could barely see,” said Shaun Webb, a resident assistant at UV and student of Weber State University.

Webb was one of several students who participated as victims of a simulated chemical spill.

“We need to know what to do when something happens,” Webb said, “because we’re responsible for our floors and then our buildings.”

A scenario was devised in which a student created the chemical hazard to harm a fellow student. Each participant was given a piece of paper describing their knowledge of the perpetrator and was interviewed by detectives after their medical condition was assessed.

The simulation was intended to give the community and multiple agencies, including the Northern Region Response Team, Ogden City Fire Department and WSU police practice in responding to an emergency.

“We teach, we learn, we experience so that we’re better prepared to handle all these complex challenges that come at us,” said Allison Hess, WSU director of public relations.

With so many agencies involved in the response, one of the primary goals of the simulation was to practice establishing effective communication, said Chad Tucker, deputy chief of Ogden City Fire.

Each year, WSU hosts a simulated emergency to test response protocols and agency collaboration.

“We have to be able to respond to these emergencies and practicing our response,” Tucker said. “Practicing our response is a very valuable thing. It’s a valuable tool for us to use. Had this been a real emergency, this is what we would do.”

The practice is an important supplement to book and classroom work, Tucker said.

“To do a large, full-scale exercise where they actually do the hands-on really helps them set the scene of how they would respond in a total emergency,” Tucker said. “The main focus of this exercise is to test (their) abilities.”

WSU chose to do the exercise on Aug. 11 so there would be minimal student traffic. Only five students were living in UV at the time of the simulation, but several other students were recruited to play the role of victim.

“We want to simulate the emergency; we do not want to create any kind of concern or alarm,” Hess said. “We picked the right day, as quiet as possible.”

The response crews first evaluated the area before establishing a quarantined area to prevent any toxic chemicals from spreading. Responders from the Ogden City Fire Department dressed in a synthetic material before entering the area deemed hazardous. After exiting the housing, they were detoxified at a station just outside the danger zone.

Crews practice responding to three different types of emergencies: natural hazards such as earthquakes and mudslides, technology hazards like hazardous materials, and extraordinary criminal events like bomb threats.



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