First responders from 12 agencies were dispatched to an emergency exercise at the Pendleton Grain Growers, Inc. (PGG) Feedville, Ore., location. The exercise participants responded to a dispatch call of an incident that involved the widely used agricultural product, anhydrous ammonia.

The drill was staged by PGG and Good Shepherd Hospital to provide evaluations of current response plans and capabilities of local agencies to respond to a mass casualty incident. This is the type of training that needs to be done for agencies across the country working in cooperation with ag retailers of anhydrous ammonia and hazardous materials.

Emergency responders need continual training for involvement in a variety of situations. The focus of this training was to determine the level of expertise in handling an agricultural emergency that affects a large number of people.

An announcement of the Oregon training explained that “trainings to this level allow teams to evaluate multiple areas of the emergency response procedures such as an increase in patients at medical facilities and coordination with other facilities throughout the region, communication between agencies, decontamination of first responders, and the ability to triage, treat and transport victims of an incident.”

Participates of the Oregon training included agencies and departments from several area  towns: Hermiston Fire, Umatilla County Dispatch, Stanfield Fire, Umatilla Fire, Pendleton Fire, Echo Fire, Umatilla County Emergency Management, Oregon HazMat 10, Life Flight, Mid-Columbia Bus Company, American Red Cross and the National Weather Service.

“The local economy thrives on large variety of agricultural production, which requires diverse production practices. By providing continual training and evaluation for emergency responders and organizations involved with agriculture is critical to providing to best response in an actual emergency,” the report of the training noted.

This training was successful providing critical evaluations and experience in handling this type of situation and bringing local response teams together. “Exercises like this are important for our local and regional medical facilities, first responders, businesses and community members to remember that safety in all industries should be a top priority,” said Dean Marcum, Oregon Health Authority, “and if an accident does occur our regions first responders are prepared to handle the situation.”

This was a training exercise and in the event of an actual emergency, the public would be instructed to listen to local TV and radio broadcasts for information and instructions.

Pendleton Grain Growers, Inc. is a member-owned agricultural cooperative with a history of serving the communities of eastern Oregon and Washington.