Emergency services descended on Evonik Oil Additives Canada Inc. Industries of Morrisburg November 23, not for a real emergency, but for real training, in case of a real emergency.
“As a Responsible Care® company, this is a good measure that we undertake to protect our employees and our community,” says Carmine Bonacci, Evonik President, Plant manager, of Friday’s training exercise that had local emergency service personnel from the South Dundas fire department, Cornwall and SD&G EMS and the SD&G OPP called to the scene of a ‘fire’ in a storage building.
Bonacci explained that Evonik regularly takes the lead role in ensuring that the community of South Dundas and its emergency response personnel are prepared to appropriately respond to an emergency at the site industry which manufactures oil additives. “At the end of the day, we need to make sure our people and the community are safe.”
According to Bonacci, most of the additives manufactured are non-hazardous polymers, but some are hazardous raw materials are used during the manufacturing process.
Friday’s emergency training exercise had been a few weeks in the planning, but only a handful of the employees who left the building following a 9:30 a.m. fire alarm knew that the fire was simulated.
The emergency responders however did know that the call was simply a training exercise and their response to the scene was quick, as it would be in a real situation.
Those staff who did know of the drill were on hand to evaluate the scene for later critique to determine how the situation could be better handled in the case of a real emergency.
“Here we rehearsed a scenario where there was a fire in a storage building,” explained Chris McDonough, Fire Chief for South Dundas Fire and Emergency Services. “When we arrived on scene, we learned that two people were unaccounted for, so we assume that they are in the building. So, our priority is to search for the victims before we suppress the fire.”
Upon arrival Chief McDonough also received an update concerning what chemicals were in the building in question, that information would be relayed to a hazardous materials team in Cornwall for evaluation.
“This is a good exercise for all the emergency services,” said McDonough. About 20 South Dundas firefighters, three paramedics and one OPP officer attended the scene. At the end of the scenario, all had the opportunity to discuss areas for improvement.
“By doing exercises like this, we find out what we can improve on, and that’s what it’s all about,” said McDonough. “It’s a good exercise for them (Evonik) and it’s a training bonus for us.”
McDonough would like to see South Dundas Fire and Emergency Services participate in a training exercise like this at different locations in the municipality once every year.
“It is a costly endeavour,” said McDonough referring to the firefighters need to take time off work and for plant production to shut down during the exercise. “But, it’s worth it, because now, in the case of an emergency, we all know exactly what we need to do.”