Area officials to take part in EMA exercise

By Kayleigh Rahn
A train will derail in Tuscola at 0900 hours Tuesday, Sept. 26.

The train, carrying hazardous material and paper, will be traveling eastbound at 26 mph when a bearing will freeze on a car and cause a derailment of six units on the far west side of town. The accident will block Niles, Main, and Parke Street crossings and a plume of hazardous gas will enter the air. The 20-28 mph wind blowing from the southwest on a clear day will carry the hazardous material plume over the Community Building, City Hall, Jarman Center, portions of Ervin Park, Ironhorse Golf Course, and each residence in between.

Now what?

Dozens of city, county, and state officials will be faced with this scenario Tuesday morning, in a tabletop exercise hosted by Douglas County Emergency Management. This is the first phase of three that will take place over the next three years. Luckily the disaster is a working scenario that will be used only in the name of preparation.

“The scenario we’ve decided to use is a train derailment at Parke Street crossing,” Douglas County EMA Director Joe Victor explained. “It’s going to be six cars, four of the cars are going to contain hazardous materials, and two cars are going to contain paper. In the first exercise there is not going to be a fire, but there is going to be a plume carried through town. These are the people we will have to be concerned with. It’s a large portion of some fairly populated areas–one being Jarman Center. How are we going to handle this? The purpose of the exercise is to make certain that the plan that we have written is operational. That we can do what we say we have in a plan. So this is a test of our planning strategies to find out where our weak spots are.”

The guest list for the tabletop exercise includes representatives from the city, county, and state governmental agencies as well as several representatives from other municipalities within the county. Each stakeholder at the table will be present to talk through their roles this emergency.

The full story can be found in the Sept. 20, 2017, edition of The Tuscola Journal.