Firefighters were paged to a gas leak at Winton Motor Raceway.
People required medical attention. On arrival at the race track, information from race officials indicated to fire crews the incident was more sinister than the initial report of a gas leak.
As the incident progressed, it escalated in complexity.
The scenario was largely based on hazardous materials response to a major event outside metropolitan Melbourne, with the specific focus on public decontamination.
Last weekend’s counter-terrorism exercise was an ideal time for local brigades to test out CFA's new public decontamination equipment. It was also a good opportunity for other agencies to see what capability CFA has with respect to hazardous materials response.
CFA set up the new hazmat equipment in a scene similar to a real scenario. There was a backdrop of the raceway garages, the media centre, CFA cars and the new heavy hazmat trucks from Shepparton and Hallam.
There were observers from both CFA and other agencies, mock members of the public who had been affected by chemical exposure and the decontamination and hazmat team.
Three brave participants volunteered to be put through the decontamination system.
Leading firefighter James Wong explained the process which began with emergency triage, changing into temporary hazmat clothing and being put through the heated decontamination shower system.
“This was one of the main focus points of the exercise, and this provided CFA with some additional valuable feedback in relation to the new equipment and processes,” LFF Wong said.
“The observers were given the opportunity to watch up close as the incident played out. It’s not something that happens very often so it was a great opportunity for people to see a decontamination zone in action. It was also a chance for other agencies, like Victoria Police, Ambulance Victoria and the EPA, to provide feedback to CFA.”
The public decontamination equipment includes:
- Inflatable fire/emergency services decontamination 2 x Inflatable holding tents
- Inflatable public decontamination shower tent
- Inflatable tent accessories (eg. pump, stakes)
- Gas powered hot water unit for the public decontamination shower
- 2 x 1000 litre waste water bladder bags
- Temporary clothing packs
The new heavy hazmat appliances will be located at Hallam and Shepparton Fire Stations and are scheduled to be in service later this year.
Another training opportunity that the exercise provided was for local agencies to form up and discuss Emergency Management Team responses and processes.
"An advantage of this type of training is for local agencies to enhance their working relationships and have a proactive response to future incidents," LFF Wong said.
A similar exercise is scheduled to be conducted at the Yarra Valley Racing Centre in Yarra Glen (District 13) on Sunday 3 June. Any questions can be directed to Leading Firefighter James Wong (Patterson River) or Operations Officer Gavin Wright (District 13).