ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Hazardous materials move through Albany every day, right through the middle of downtown on the railroad, and on trucks on most highways. Firefighters have to be ready to deal with disasters.
Albany Fire Department Lt. A. B. Lewis is in command of Engine 8, first to arrive on the scene of a hazardous material spill. They have to find out what is going on without getting too close, so they use binoculars. Inside the building they see a number of victims, while one cries for help outside.
"This is not something we do every day," Lewis said.
Firefighters go in to check, and report 18 victims. Then one firefighter is overcome by a white powder inside the building.
"Mayday. Mayday, did he say mayday? We got two," says the radio. "You two get ready to go in," Lewis said.
The firefighters discover the chemical involved, and quickly they look up how to respond. "The name of the chemical is para-formaldehyde. It's got on everybody and they had to d-con them for 20 minutes," Polite said.
Firefighters set up decontamination showers, laying out walk ways to keep the chemical from being spread. With time short, the decision is made to use a fire hose to start washing down the victims.
Turner Job Corps students this week helped the Albany Fire Department with Hazmat training. The students played the role of Hazmat victims while firefighters practiced how to help them.
The students have played the role of the victims, and as the drill ends, they want to get wet, so they get into the shower.
For the firefighters, the drill is only the beginning of their work. "We're going to go back in and we are going to talk about the things that we did right. And what we did wrong. And fix it," Polite said.
That's the reason the entire Albany Fire Department participated in these Hazmat drills this week. To be ready if the real thing happens.
Firefighters say there has never been a mass decontamination Hazmat situation in Albany, but first responders drill like this every year to make sure they are ready, just in case.