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VAN WERT — As part of the EPA/SERC requirements for the State of Ohio, Van Wert County and Allen County teamed up for a full scale exercise in the City of Delphos on Thursday morning.

According to Van Wert County EMA Director Rick McCoy, he and Tom Berger, Allen County EMA Director, began planning for the drill back in early spring with the intention of both counties resources coming together to test hazardous material preparedness in Delphos. Two area facilities “Airgas” and Crop Production Services are located just southwest of the Delphos city limits and provided their locations for the drill to take place. The scenario involved a likely weather event with a tornado hitting the facilities releasing a large amount of anhydrous ammonia and also igniting a building where chemicals were stored.

The morning began with a call being made to the Van Wert County 9-1-1 dispatch advising of the incident with the Sheriff’s Office then coordinating with the Allen County Sheriff’s Office to dispatch the necessary agencies to handle the scenario. Several contaminated victims at the scene were transported to St. Rita’s Medical Center by the Middle Point EMS and Van Wert EMS where they were put through the emergency room deacon system. Fire departments practicing their skills and procedures on containing the chemicals included Delphos Fire and the Allen County Haz-Mat Team. Also assisting at the scene where the Van Wert and Allen County Sheriff Departments.

As a component of the drill, due to a toxic cloud over Delphos, the EMAs, along with their public information officers from both counties, coordinated population protection actions for the residents of Delphos and how they would be alerted to shelter-in-place or evacuate. The Red Cross offices and health departments from both counties were tasked with establishing a shelter site in Delphos where some volunteers came to the shelter and registered as evacuees.

Additional communications were handled by amateur radio operators. Also participating in the exercise were all Delphos Schools and nursing homes and the procedures they would follow on evacuating or keeping everyone in a shelter-in-place setting. The area Community Health Professionals also played a role on how they could handle their clients in this type of disaster situation.

McCoy said the drill was a great learning experience for the 83 participants involved and it gave the agencies a better understanding on how to effectively work together between the two counties in a real world disaster.