HARRISBURG, Pa. – The Dauphin County Office of Emergency Management will host an Emergency Operations Center Exercise Thursday, April 20.
The exercise will begin between 3 and 4 p.m. and will focus on a simulated scenario of a potential release of hazardous materials into the environment.
There is no risk or danger to the public during the exercise; it is a simulated drill for training and education purposes. Each participating municipality will manage their own version of the simulated hazardous materials release incident, with the county serving as host and coordinator.
“This is essentially a practice drill for emergency responders throughout the county to test and assess their response capabilities, emergency operations plans, policies, and procedures,” said Jeff Enders, director of the Dauphin County Department of Public Safety. “This exercise will be an excellent opportunity for our all of our staff, first responders and community partners to work together to hone their skills in emergency management.”
Dauphin County Emergency Management Coordinator Chris Fisher noted that the scenario for the exercise was chosen following the recent freight train derailment that occurred just across the Pennsylvania border in East Palestine, Ohio. During that event, hazardous materials were released from the rail cars into the air, posing a potential health and safety risk to residents in the affected areas.
“Recent events across the nation involving hazardous materials releases and accidents in the rail transportation sector highlighted the importance of ensuring our existing plans and procedures are tested through real-life exercises in our community,” Fisher said.
The scenario will simulate the release of hazardous materials during transportation by road or rail and will prompt exercise participants to consider the implications of such releases and how to respond. Dauphin County has a state-certified Hazardous Materials Response Team, which is charged with responding to these types of incidents.
“These exercises are intended to help us assess where we need to improve so that we can more effectively respond to similar incidents, should they occur in our community,” said Dauphin County Hazardous Materials Response Team Chief Robert Hill.
More than 100 participants are expected during the exercise, representing public and private organizations – including municipal emergency management agencies, local emergency responders, hospitals and health systems, Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster, among others.
The following agencies and organizations are scheduled to participate in the exercise:
- Dauphin County Office of Emergency Management
- Dauphin County Emergency Communications Center
- Dauphin County Hazardous Materials Response Team
- American Red Cross – Central PA Chapter
- Dauphin County Municipal Emergency Management Agencies
- Dauphin Borough Emergency Management Agency
- Derry Township Emergency Management Agency
- Halifax Township Emergency Management Agency
- Harrisburg City Emergency Management Agency
- Lower Swatara Emergency Management Agency
- Middletown Borough Emergency Management Agency
- Middle Paxton Township Emergency Management Agency
- Millersburg Borough Emergency Management Agency
- Paxtang Borough Emergency Management Agency
- Royalton Borough Emergency Management Agency
- Swatara Township Emergency Management Agency
- Upper Paxton Township Emergency Management Agency
- Harrisburg Property Services
- Health systems within Dauphin County
- Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center
- UPMC in Central Pennsylvania
- Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency