Written by Mark Jaeger
Wednesday, 03 November 2010 17:55
Emergency exercise at Cook Composites tests accident preparedness
Well-managed companies have detailed disaster plans in place to get them through any worst-case scenario.
For some businesses, those disasters may be limited to a computer system crashing, but for a company like Saukville’s Cook Composites & Polymers, the possibilities are much more catastrophic.
As a chemical company located in the heart of a growing residential area, officials know that an accident could threaten the lives of scores of people.
CCP is a world leader in the production of gel coats, unsaturated polyester resins, coatings resins and emulsions.
That production relies on a high volume of volatile chemicals and came into play during a mock exercise that tested the preparedness of the company along with that of first responders from the Saukville fire and police departments and Ozaukee County Emergency Management.
In the scenario, several workers at the plant on a recent Saturday heard a loud noise at the rear of the plant, caused when an electrical transformer exploded. Shrapnel burst a nearby chemical tank, allowing a white cloud of vapor to escape.
To keep the drill interesting, unexpected twists were built into the event, which was crafted by the exercise design team and Pre-Emergency Planning, a professional training company.
Mark Owen, the county’s emergency management director, said the CCP drill is an example of the heightened sense of awareness companies have of potential disasters.
“Many companies have placed an increased emphasis on emergency preparedness, especially since the 9/11 attacks,” Owen said.
He said the drill gave responders a chance for hands-on use of the Sheriff’s Department mobile command vehicle and an automated notification system that placed phone calls to homes within a selected radius of the “accident” site.
CCP Plant Manager Paul Utecht said the drill was used a mutual training for all parties and proved greatly beneficial.
“This was another example of our commitment to public outreach,” Utecht said. “I think the public should take great comfort in seeing how well prepared officials and responders are for this type of incident.”
EMERGENCY PERSONNEL TENDED to mock victims during a recent training exercise at the Cook Composites & Polymers plant in Saukville. Because of the potential volatility of the chemicals on the site, the Ozaukee County hazardous materials team responded to the simulated incident. Emergency Management Director Mark Owen said his department works closely with any company interested in enhancing its disaster preparedness. Photos by Sam Arendt