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Northwestern Practices Emergency Response

Emergency personnel practice responding to simulated hazardous lab accidents


EVANSTON, Ill. --- Northwestern University, the Evanston Fire Department (EFD) and area response teams gathered recently on Northwestern's Evanston campus to practice responding to simulated hazardous materials emergencies.

In a first-of-its-kind event, the University hosted a series of practice drills, providing emergency personnel the chance to respond to realistic laboratory emergencies at the Technological Institute.

Three emergency scenarios -- a different one each day -- presented some combination of hazards, from chemical spills and broken glass to fire and contaminated air. Actors played the roles of victims and witnesses, and they interacted with response personnel from Northwestern University Police, the Office for Research Safety (ORS) and the EFD.

“It was a positive and productive three days. Not only were the individual drills successful, we are already planning future events that build on what we learned,” said Michael Blayney, ORS executive director. "We have outstanding fire and police departments protecting Northwestern and our local communities. It was a great investment that has strengthened our ability to work together.”

Emergency rescue operations were staged outside Tech near the loading dock of the Hogan Biological Sciences Building. The staging area provided direct access for fire personnel to practice entry into a lab while causing minimal disruption or alarm to the campus community.

Other participating external responders included members of the North Shore Hazardous Materials Team and Division 3 of the Mutual Aid Box Alarm System (MABAS), bringing together for the first time at Northwestern a broad array of personnel from across the north suburban area to practice their specialized skills in responding to dangerous chemical emergencies.

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