5.14 What Worked and What Did Not Work
Communication to the Public
During this incident, Reverse 911®, the media, and police officers going door to door were used to inform residents of the need to evacuate.
Cooperation of the Union Pacific Railroad
Union Pacific Roper Rail Yard employees assisted in the incident and provided the rail manifest to the emergency management officials. However, the initial information provided was incorrect, and the railroad staff worked to correct that information.
Development of Experience
The incident tested every entity beyond the training exercises to date. As a result, they will be better prepared for the next one.
Development of Relationships with Other Entities
Relationships have been developed over the years through training and experience; however, due to this incident, new players were involved. As a result, emergency management officials now have a person to whom they can relate.
A joint information center was established at the highway patrol dispatch center and allowed for consistent information and a unified voice in communicating on the incident. When the freeways were closed down, a press conference was set up with the fire department, the police department, and the highway patrol communicating information on the fire, evacuation, and road closures respectively.
Overall Cooperation of the Entities Involved
Entities cooperated and coordinated their efforts. The incident allowed the entities to realize that no one entity could handle the incident on its own and help was needed.
Media Web Page
The police department utilized a “FatPot” media web page that the media could log onto to find out information regarding the incident. The police department updated it as needed.
Training for a Catastrophic Event
Training exercises and drills are conducted by the various emergency management entities. To better understand rail cars and their potential for leakage, training will occur on simulated and real rail cars to allow entities to train in a safe environment regarding rail car operations.
Training of First Responders in Incident Command
First responders in South Salt Lake City are trained in incident command and have been practicing incident command for some time. As a result, incident command is established quickly when needed.
Unified Incident Command
As a result of training in incident command, a unified incident command structure is developed when applicable.
Use of the National Incident Management System
During this incident, the emergency management officials of South Salt Lake City utilized the national incident management system.
No Identification of All of the Chemicals Located in the Rail Car
The rail yard had the manifest of what they thought the car was carrying (sulfuric acid and hydrochloric acid). The side of the rail car and the Department of Transportation placard stated sulfuric acid, but it was not until samples were taken and analysis prepared that the chemicals were identified.
Pumping of the Rail Car Before the Identification of the Chemicals
The fire department initially thought they knew what they had and started to pump out the rail car. In the process, they burned through three pumps because metal and poly fittings were being “eaten” by the chemical.
Sample Material Did Not Match the Rail Car Manifest
First responders did not have a proper idea of chemicals involved until the laboratory results were analyzed.
February 6, 2006