Emergencies come in all different shapes and sizes, especially on the industrial-sized scale the Tilden and Empire mines provide. But, knowing where to go and how to act saves time and lives in the process.
Because safety is paramount at Cliffs Natural Resources, they decided to go above and beyond the mandated training by incorporating local agencies into their emergency exercises. Cliffs already has a stable of 37 first responders on staff, but when disaster strikes in real time other agencies are called into action.
“The purpose of the exercise is to provide not only Cliffs’ Emergency Response Team, but also outside agencies, the opportunity to train and learn together in a collaboration,” explained Jennifer Huetter, Cliffs’ District Manager of Public Affairs. “An exercise like this is not necessarily mandated, we’re just reinforcing the importance of that safety and training.”
Tonight’s simulation involved a Tilden Mine truck driver mishandling a hose full of harzardous chemicals and spilling the reagent on himself and four fellow workers in the process. Bell Hospital, Marquette General and Richmond Township EMS then transported the victims to a triage center set up on the premises where they were treated accordingly. Mine officials and medical personnel monitored the entire process, looking for ways to improve the procedure along the way. But, for almost everyone involved, practice is the only way to iron out the wrinkles.
“It’s just hands on training to prepare for the real issues,” remarked Bill Luetzow of the Richmond Township Fire Department. “Hopefully, we don’t have to utilize them, but the main thing is just hands-on training. A lot of times you just come up here to familiarize yourself with changes; new buildings, new equipment. Then, it’s a practice for our response time when there are real issues we need to be out here for.”
The Ishpeming Township Fire Department and Marquette County Emergency Management and Central Dispatch also joined in on the effort, bringing the response full circle.