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HazMat Team Spotlight: St. Louis County Missouri

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    Hazardous Materials Team Overview

    Hazardous materials response in St. Louis County Missouri is supplied by a volunteer organization composed of emergency responders from member departments including fire and police officers countywide. They do not receive compensation for their duties on the hazmat team. Member departments are composed of fire departments and fire protection districts. For a department to be a member of the team they must have a minimum of three hazardous materials technicians. The team responds to all of St. Louis County and assists St. Louis City as required through mutual aid agreement. They will also respond to other counties as requested. The team is dispatched through the Central County Fire Dispatch Center. It is operated by a board of directors composed of personnel from member departments. Chairman of the board of directors and team Commander is Chief William Brandes of the Creve Coeur Fire Protection District. Vice-Chairman and Deputy Commander is Deputy Chief John Bailot of the Kirkwood Fire Department. Scott Barthelmass is the Public Information Officer (PIO) for the team and responsible for "dissemination of accurate information at hazmat incidents and to promote and publicize the training, expertise and equipment of the hazmat team and its membership." PIO Barthelmass is both a career police officer and a fire fighter.

    The St. Louis County Office of Emergency Management (OEM) coordinates all activities of the St. Louis County Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC) in responding to hazardous materials issues and concerns, i.e. storage of chemicals, and response to and recovery from chemical spills and releases. OEM works with the St. Louis County Hazardous Materials Emergency Response Team (HMERT) providing training and funding for equipment purchases.

    St. Louis County formed its hazardous materials response team in 1989 and following planning and training the team became operational in 1991. The team serves an area of 524 square miles with a population of approximately 1.2 million. There are 43 independent fire departments in St. Louis County operating 81 fire stations plus the Boeing Aircraft Fire Department. There are 29 additional fire stations in St. Louis City. Fire departments handle EMS response in the county. Thirty-five hospitals in the region including some in Illinois have signed a mutual aid agreement to supply personnel, equipment and supplies in times of a disaster such as a tornado, hazmat or WMD incident.

    A uniformed career staff of 1380 personnel provide staffing for the 43 fire departments in the county (not including St. Louis City) and they are supplemented by 50 to 100 volunteers. Firefighters operate 77 engine companies 30 truck companies, 6 air units, 57 medic units, 3 hazardous materials companies, 9 light/heavy rescue companies, 2 foam units, 7 brush units, and 8 boats with various capabilities. The Missouri and Mississippi Rivers flow by parts of St. Louis County and the boats handle fire and rescue associated with the river.

    St. Louis County's Hazardous Materials Response Team responds to an average of 6 full team call-outs per year, 3-4 exercises, and 2-3 deployments to stand-by for major events like the presidential debates in 2004. Duty officers respond to approximately 30-40 requests for technical assistance. Full team call-outs usually result in an average of 40 technicians out of 200 on the team responding. Statistics for hazmat responses do not include local engine runs for hydrocarbon fuel spills and natural gas leaks which are handled by local fire departments. Each engine company carries absorbent material for small hydrocarbon spills.

    St. Louis County's hazardous materials team is a leader in the inclusion and training of law enforcement personnel for hazmat and terrorism response. Training is provided by the hazmat team for law enforcement bomb technicians (technician level), the police swat team members (technician level), police tact team members who operate from helicopters, Highway Patrol (level B), the medical examiner, and the Hazmat Team Physician. Swat team members have practiced shooting automatic weapons while in Level A suits. Hazmat team members in St. Louis County have an excellent working relation ship with county law enforcement and other agencies. Nextel cell phones are used in the group call mode and team members are able to talk between agencies and call other agencies for technical information 24-7 using them. Communications procedures are well established and while standing next to Chief Brandes he called the FBI WMD Coordinator for the St. Louis FBI Field Office Dave Elkington using the group call function on a Saturday morning and had instant communication. Chief Brande's Nextel was loaded with phone numbers of resources and contact persons that were just a moments notice from contact using Nextel's "walkie-talkie" feature. In the event the Nextel system is unavailable, they use a pager system as back-up. Previous planning, training, exercises, and Presidential Debates have proven the St. Louis County Hazmat Team is well prepared to handle both hazardous materials incidents and preparation for acts of terrorism at major events. Three area police departments have available 20 Level C Tychem F and AV 2000 Scott Respirators for a total of 60 police officer's available total in the county. County Police have a bomb squad with 1 dog and two robots and a containment vessel.

    Vehicle(s)

    Saint Louis County uses trailers exclusively to carry equipment and manage incidents that may occur. The main response trailer is a 37' designated as HM-23 and is located at the Creve Coeur Fire Protection District. The trailer is currently pulled by a 1-ton pick-up but a specially designed fifth wheel truck has been purchased and will replace the pick-up. The command center is in the front of HM-23 and equipment is located in rear compartments. Fire departments listed on the side of HM-23 are founding team members and include Black Jack FPD, West County FPD, Maryland Heights FPD, Kirkwood FD, and Pattonville FPD. Fenton Fire Protection District houses the 24' mass decontamination trailer designated as Unit HM-13. Other decontamination units in 16' trailers are located at the Kirkwood Fire Department and Spanish Lake and Mehlville Fire Protection Districts. An additional 16' Decontamination Support Unit is located at the Emergency Operations Center (EOC). A 20' HazMed trailer is located at the Eureka Fire Protection District used for mass casualty hazmat incidents.

    Equipment carried on board equipment trailers includes decontamination, inflatable decontamination tents, entry PPE, respiratory protection, monitoring instruments, research sources, chlorine kits A, B, and C, patching and plugging, portable weather station, non-sparking tools, and other miscellaneous tools. Team members have added air chucks to 5" hose caps and use inflated hose as containment in the decontamination area. Front line engines throughout the county also carry radiation monitors and Level B Chemical Suits.

    Staffing

    St. Louis County Hazmat has approximately 200 technicians drawn from county fire and police departments. All other firefighting and law enforcement personnel are trained to the awareness level.

    Training Requirements

    Hazardous materials technicians on the St. Louis County Hazmat Team are provided training through the local emergency management agency and LEPC. A training trailer is available with Level B protective equipment and other equipment for any department that wants to conduct training.

    Monitoring Instruments & Identification Equipment

    Monitoring capabilities include:

    • pH Paper
    • 4-Gas Meters
    • Color Metric Tubes
    • Area Rae
    • Mini Rae
    • Multi Rae
    • Q-Rae
    • NRC
    • PID
    • RAD

    Terrorist Agent ID:

    • APD
    • M-8, M-9 papers and the M-256 Military detection kits.

    Personnel Protective Equipment

    • Level A
      • Kapler Responder
      • Flash Protection
    • Level B
      • CPF 4
      • CPF3 Coveralls

    Respiratory Protection

    • Scott 50 with 60 minute bottles
    • BE10 Hooded PAPR
    • Scott AV 2000 Mask with Law Enforcement Canisters

    Communications

    Radio trunking system is available through county dispatch to link interagency communications together.

    • HT 1000 and JT 1000 Scott in suit communications

    Research Resources

    Most all research is conducted through the internet and software programs. Books are rarely used and are mainly a back-up.

    • Lists of inventory at some fixed facilities
    • Chemical Knowledge Computer Program
    • Railroad Explosives Guide
    • NIOSH
    • ERG
    • Condensed Chemical Dictionary
    • CAMEO/Computer Software
    • COBRA/Computer Software
    • Chris Manual
    • NFPA Fire Protection Guide for Hazardous Materials

    Standard Operating Procedures/Guidelines

    • Check with St. Louis County Hazmat for specific SOP/SOG's

    Hazardous Materials Exposures

    Interstates 40, 44, 55, 64, 70, 170, 370, 255 and 270 cross through St. Louis County as well as state highways 67, 100, and 340. St. Louis City has Union Pacific, Norfork Southern, and Burlington Northern rail yards with lines that run through the county and barges carrying hazardous materials that travel up and down the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers. Some of the major chemical exposures include chlorine, anhydrous ammonia, sulfuric acid and hydrogen fluoride. Monsanto Chemical Company has their world headquarters in the County. Additionally, Mallinckrodt, Sigma, and Soluta chemical companies are also in the area along with petroleum refineries.

    Challenges

    Team leaders report that it is becoming increasingly difficult to recruit new team members and the current team is aging. One of their primary problems is meth labs although police are trained in hazmat and have a meth lab response trailer. Hazmat is also called in for consultation.

    Contact Information

    For additional information or questions, contact:
    PIO Scott Barthelmass
    sbarthelmass@yahoo.com
    636-938-5505

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