Behind the scenes look at CT first responders hazmat emergency preparedness drill in Waterbury

News 8 Exclusive

WATERBURY, Conn. (WTNH) — It looked like something terrible had happened on Platts Mill Road along the Naugatuck River on the Waterbury/Naugatuck line Wednesday. But really it was a hazmat emergency preparedness drill. News 8 got an exclusive look at the training.

Scores of emergency vehicles from around what’s known as “Region 5” converged on the scene, crews from Waterbury, Naugatuck, Torrington, Danbury, and Beacon Falls took part.

It turns out it was nothing to be alarmed about. But it was important; a hazmat drill designed to help these crews from different towns learn to work together quickly and efficiently in case a real emergency of this kind ever happens.

“Just so we can get familiar with each other, how each department may work a little differently, use different equipment, radio communications being one of them,” explained Battalion Chief Jim Burns of the Waterbury Fire Department.

Wednesday’s drill had different agencies responding to a mock crash between two trucks. Barrels in one of those vehicles contained fake chemicals that “spilled out” when those barrels overturned. Under the mock scenario, their contents ending up in the Naugatuck River.

Crews then scrambled to put on protective suits and investigate the mock crash scene. Those crew members then hosed off in something called a “Decon Zone” (or Decon line) that was built jointly by members of the Waterbury and Naugatuck Fire Departments.

“And we’re trying not to – and prevent – cross-contamination,” said Assistant Batallion Chief Walter Seaman of the Naugatuck Fire Department.

Officials from DEEP were also on hand. Away from this scene, crews were also in Beacon Falls working together to contain the mock chemicals that “spilled” down the river.

All of this so cities and towns can learn to work together quickly and efficiently to protect each other, the environment, and the public.

“We form a risk assessment,” said Assistant Batallion Chief Seaman. “How are we going to protect ourselves and what is the impact right now on the environment?”

The hope is split-second decisions required in a drill like this will pay off if these crews are ever confronted with this type of real emergency situation down the road.

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