An emergency scenario involving supposedly hazardous materials kept firefighters and other first responders in Portland on their toes Thursday afternoon.
While it all looked like the real thing, it turned out to be a training exercise.
It looked more like a full-scale emergency outside of the Portland Community Center at 2000 Billy G. Webb. First responders tested their skills in a mock Hazmat situation.
When you are dealing with hazardous materials such as a meth lab, or something worse, sometimes it is too much for local firefighters. That's where what is called a civil support team steps in to help.
"These folks come in. They have specialized equipment and tools, specialized people as well, that will turn around and be able to assist when it grows out of their control," Portland Fire Chief Timothy Vanlandingham said.
Out of the 17 people who attended the training, five of the hazmat techs are from Portland, and they are all state-certified to respond to cases like this.
"Going through the motions," said Staff Sgt. Eddie Flores, who participated in the drill. "We try to build muscle memory, go down range as if its really going on."
The scenario was some sort of hazardous lab. The job of the team was to figure out what it is. The stakes were raised when one of the team members became exposed to the material. Team members had to go in, pull him out and hose him down, and then send him to the hospital if they needed to.
"The people in the suit, we use them instead of a dummy," said Major Bobbie Jackson of the Texas National Guard. "It's a real feel for what happens in the real world, and we want to train to actually operate in a real-world scenario."
The Portland Fire Chief said the training there is critical when an actual emergency happens.
"A lot of times, when it comes to hazardous materials, you only get one chance to make a mistake, and you don't want to make it in a real world," Vanlandingham said. "Make it during an exercise. Make those corrections."
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