Office of Operations
21st Century Operations Using 21st Century Technologies

5.5 Advance Planning

5.5.1 Drills – Practice

The fire department and police department are trained in the use of the national incident management system.

Drills have been conducted among the various entities involved in the South Salt Lake City incident, such as a chlorine drill prior to the Winter Olympics. The Red Cross also participates in the various tabletop exercises.

In September 2004, a drill was conducted with various fire departments and the South Salt Lake City Valley Health Department at the Roper Rail Yard with a spilled mixed laboratory waste scenario. Due to this exercise, issues were developed, identified, and resolved such as the determination that the parking lot at the Roper Rail Yard was too small to accommodate responding entities and booms/pumps could not be extended from roadways above the rail yard. The drill mimicked this March 6, 2005, incident closely.

On October 3 to 5, 2005, there was a training session with entities such as fire departments, local law enforcement, and the railroad HazMat team regarding basic rail car identification and hands-on training for a rail car using a simulated rail car. The hands-on training involves learning the operation of the rail car such as ventilation, piping, and other systems. It was held over 3 days to allow for all shifts to benefit from the training.

As of the writing of this document, a simulated chemical leak in the Roper Rail Yard is planned for training in November 2005 while in spring 2006, Union Pacific Railroad will provide a rail car that simulates off gassing and liquid leaks. It is anticipated that the training will include repair of the valves and pumping of the tanks. The rail cars will be actual cars with simulated products.

The police department conducts annual drills and has approximately three to four incidents that require partial evacuations of neighborhoods. The feeling was expressed that the actual evacuations provide equivalent training opportunities and an ability to learn lessons. However, this incident was on a larger scale than previous incidents.

5.5.2 Evacuation Plan for Incident

An evacuation plan was developed for the incident as part of the unified incident command. Initially, the immediate area near the spill site needed to be evacuated. If the plume worsened or the wind direction changed, the evacuation plan called for the evacuation of people near the plume and to shelter-in-place the others. The evacuation plan was fluid based on incident conditions and information received by the fire department.

5.5.3 Public Shelters

Public shelters were set up at churches and government buildings by local law enforcement and the Red Cross, but most of those evacuated stayed with friends or family. Approximately eight people showed up at the shelters.

The reasons given for the low attendance at the public shelters is due to the closeness of the community. It was felt that the evacuees went to stay with family and friends.

February 6, 2006
Publication #FHWA-HOP-08-014