First responders sharpened their skills in downtown Waxahachie on Thursday morning. Firefighters, police officers, medical personnel from American Medical Response, and Atmos Energy employees took part in a training scenario that involved a simulated gas leak.
Waxahachie Assistant Police Chief Joe Wiser stated the training exercise provided emergency crews with a realistic situation to gain new experiences they can apply to their respective jobs. He noted the possibility of a gas leak is a genuine danger.
“The scenario that has been planned this morning is a saturated gas leak underneath the police department building, which houses the communications center,” Wiser said. “Dispatch that is normally static in a building, but now they have to become mobile because their function is still required.”
The scenario involved evacuating the occupants of the station and neighboring businesses to a safe distance. Fire crews searched the building and found a dummy that simulated an incapacitated person. This person was taken to safety and treated by medical personnel.
After vacating the building, dispatchers were tasked with setting up a mobile communications site so emergency calls could be answered. Members of Atmos Energy used equipment to located the leak and isolate it.
Alfonso Hernandez, manager of public affairs for Atmos Energy, stated the training has been very beneficial and showed areas where the groups can improve.
“We want to make sure we are learning from those mistakes," Hernandez said. "It allows us to look at our procedures and our processes a little closer to make sure that we are not missing any critical steps in our process."
Hernandez stated the training also helps to build relationship and communication with first responders.
Waxahachie Fire Chief Ricky Boyd stated training with several agencies is valuable and increases community between the departments. It also shows ways the department how can better serve the community.
Wiser added that the training highlighted some items in the department’s protocol that can be improved to eliminate confusion.