As an incident commander in this situation, I have the responsibility of ensuring incident safety to keep the number of casualties as low as possible. I am supposed to establish and maintain liaison with other agencies that are participating in the incidents as well as ensuring that there is smooth flow of information to all internal and external stakeholders.
It is important to understand the nature of the hazardous chemical. In this case, anhydrous Ammonia is transported in form of a cold liquid at about -28 0 F which when released from two-inch hole quickly turns to its gaseous state. The first responders to the incidents are the agencies that the incident commander liaises with among them police officers, security agencies, fire fighters and emergency medical service (EMS) personnel. They all require level A chemical protective cloths and self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) CDC (2015). They should study the direction of the wind and the topography of the area so that they approach the area upwind. Ensure that rescue services vehicles are positioned headed away from the incident scene. Once at the scene, isolate the hazard area and deny entry, establish an outer perimeter by closing major roadways into the area. Police officers and security agencies will effectively handle this to avoid new casualties. Establish the inner perimeter that will only be accessed by personnel with proper protective clothing (Schnepp et al. 2009).
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Establish the response priorities, in this case; the first priority is to rescue mass casualties with high probability of survival, those with mild exposure complaining of eye and nose irritation, those coughing as a result of lung irritation. Then look for those who are already unconscious. The casualties will be evacuated from the scene where first aid will be administered for instance washing their eyes with a lot of water. From the staging zone where rescue vehicles are parked heading away from the scene, the victim will be transported to hospitals using the emergency rescue vehicles. Then attend to the mass fatalities. Organize for their transport to nearby morgues. Dissemination of information regarding the situation is a simultaneous activity during the evacuation process (Schnepp et al. 2016). The last response priority should be to protect the environment, property, and equipment. This will include decontamination of the scene and proper disposal of the toxic material including contaminated clothes and PPE in 6-mil polythene bags.
CDC (2015). The National Institute for Occupation Safety and Health (NIOSH); ammonia solution (UN3318); Ammonia Anhydrous (UN1005): Lung Damaging Agent. Retrieved from; http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/ershdb/emergencyresponsecard_29750013.html
Schnepp, R., National Fire Protection Association., & International Association of Fire Chiefs. (2009). Hazardous materials: Awareness and operations . Boston: Jones and Bartlett Publishers.
Schnepp, R., International Association of Fire Chiefs., & National Fire Protection Association. (2016) H azardous materials: Awareness and operations . Boston: Jones and Bartlett Publishers.