Community Disaster Drill Set for June 29

On June 29, several area safety and emergency agencies will work together to train and practice skills in the event of a real disaster. Included in the drill are:

• Saint Marys Fire Department & HAZMAT Team
• Fox Township Fire Department
• Saint Marys EMS
• Fox Township EMS
• Ridgway EMS
• Elkland Search & Rescue
• Penn Highlands Elk
• Local police

The event will begin at 6 p.m. at Morgan Advanced Materials, 441 Hall Avenue in St. Marys. An ammonia spill will be simulated at the front loading dock, and eight individuals will feign injuries, chemical and respiratory burns, and visual impairment. First responders will arrive on scene, and search and rescue dogs will look for at least one person who wanders off with vision loss.

The injured will be triaged in the field and then transported to the emergency department at Penn Highlands Elk, where a tent will be erected for decontamination and an incident command center will be established.

Experts will be on hand to evaluate the emergency response efforts. Those volunteering their time to be there include the fire chief, staff from EMMCO East, staff from Penn Highlands Clearfield and a member of the Pittsburgh Emergency Management Team. The local 911 center manager will also be on hand to evaluate dispatch efficacy.

“We have drills at least once a year,” said Keith VanHorn, maintenance supervisor at Penn Highlands Elk and paramedic with Saint Marys EMS. “They are mandatory and an important part of disaster preparedness. They take a lot of coordination among several local companies, many of which are run by volunteers. The drills are a great community effort, and we are thankful to all who give their time to help.”

Anyone witnessing the drill on June 29 should not be alarmed, and there is no need to call 911.