COTTONWOOD, Calif. - Local government agencies assembled at the Cottonwood CHP weight station for the Multiple Casualty Incident and CHEMPACK Deployment Exercise.
The drill is designed to help different agencies practice their response to a major hazardous material spill. The drill started early at 9 a.m. The scene featured a tanker truck involved in a traffic collision.
"As a result [of the accident] closed down the freeway and the truck began leaking an unknown substance until emergency arrived," said Tehama County CHP Officer Matthew Thompson.
The drill included passengers who were hurt and some were in critical condition.
Firefighters had to act fast and work closely with other agencies. The scene was split in two, one side in Tehama County and the other in Shasta County.
Firefighters and CHP officers went car-to-car helping those injured and checking for chemical exposure.
"It provides emergency responders with details as far as evacuation distances, what the hazards are, what to expect when they approach and if they can approach," said Officer Thompson.
The exercise also let the agencies practice deploying a chempack, which when
stocked with enough medicine could treat 450 people for exposure to nerve agents.
"The real thing may be slightly different but it is good to do it. We don't do hazmat drills very often at all," said CAL FIRE Public Information Officer Kevin Colburn.
Those seriously hurt were taken to the nearby hospital where a separate drill was held.
Agencies involved included the CHP, Tehama and Shasta County Sheriff, the Department of Health , Red Cross, CAL FIRE and other fire agencies.
"We get to see what the weak points are, what breaks down, what needs to be improved on," Thompson said.
A total of 150 participants were involved, many of them volunteers.
The drill was made possible thanks to various health grants.