This is only a test

More than 70 people converged Wednesday evening to simulate a chemical spill and its emergency response.

The mock spill, which occurred at a chemistry lab at Heidelberg University and involved several students, was conducted by the Seneca County Local Emergency Planning Committee, Heidelberg University, Mercy Tiffin Hospital, Tiffin Fire and Rescue Division and Seneca County Emergency Management Agency.

Students exposed to chemicals were either transported by ambulance or by themselves to Mercy Tiffin Hospital, where they went through decontamination and treatment.

“Things went very well,” said Dean Henry, public information officer for Seneca County, following the drill.

Henry said regional and state evaluators rated the exercise highly and it was indicated the county’s response would be approved by the Ohio EMA.

Henry said the county had been planning and discussing the hazardous materials drill for about six months.

He said hazmat drills are required to be performed once a year, with a different scenario simulated each year.

Some years, a table-top discussion takes the place of an actual drill, he said.

“Table-tops, although a great tool, don’t flush out all the problems we may have with emergency personnel and radio communication,” Henry said. “When you do a simulation, that’s where the rubber meets the road. It’s the closest thing you get to a true emergency response.”

Agencies assisting in the exercise Wednesday evening included the Bascom Joint Fire District and the NBS Joint Fire District.