Emergency officials are pressured to act fast in an organized fashion when faced with a crisis. To brush up on these skills, Norton Fire Department joined other area safety officials in a chemical ammonia spill drill at the Hallsmith Sysco facility Wednesday.
“This is to test the community and hospital response in the event of some sort of disaster,” said emergency preparedness coordinator David Denneno.
Participating departments included Mansfield Fire Department, Easton Fire Department, N. Attleboro Fire Department, Plainville Fire Department and Rehoboth Ambulance. The victims were played by about 26 N. Attleboro High School health career students.
Denneno explained that the students feigned cardiac arrest, chemical burns and other injuries. Mansfield Fire Department Fire Chief Neal Boldrighini was on scene to take notes on how responders performed. Departments will then review the results and discuss what improvements can be made.
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“The community role is to respond, identify what’s going on and treat [patients] and bring patients to [Sturdy Memorial Hospital],” Denneno said. “The hospital’s response is to go through the process of everything from triaging to decontaminating.”
A debriefing was held immediately following the drill. According to Norton Fire Chief Paul Schleicher, Boldrighini was very impressed with the mechanics of the drill.
“Like all drills, we found some areas [that] need tweaking, and we will be getting together for a post incident critique next week to discuss the many things that went great and to look at what we could improve upon,” Schleicher said. “ Overall, the drill was definitely a success both on our end, and at Sturdy Memorial Hospital, the receiving hospital for the drill patients.”