OSU, local agencies to host biohazard emergency response drill on campus Sept. 12-13

People in hazmat suits on campus

A previous biohazard drill was held on the OSU campus. Date: Aug. 31, 2011 (photo: Theresa Hogue)

A large-scale hazardous materials emergency response drill will take place on Thursday and Friday, Sept. 12-13, at Oregon State University.

The drill will involve numerous agencies and organizations and is intended to test procedures and facilitate lines of communication among first responders that might be activated during an actual incident, according to Matt Philpott, OSU’s biological safety officer with Environmental Health & Safety.

“We want the campus and community to be aware that there may be a number of emergency response vehicles on campus – especially on Friday – but it is a drill,” Philpott said. “It should have minimal impact on pedestrian and automobile traffic.

“It is important for the public to know that OSU and its many partners regularly collaborate and practice for emergency situations that we hope never happen,” he added.

The drill will include state and federal law enforcement, fire departments, hazard response units, uniformed Oregon National Guard members and others. Participating OSU units include Student Health Services, Environmental Health & Safety, Public Safety and the Oregon State Police.

The Campus Way bike path (where the covered bridge is located) may have higher-than-usual vehicle traffic on Thursday, and the Reser Stadium parking lot and South Farm area off Brooklane Drive will be used as staging areas for Friday’s activities.

The drill has been organized by OSU’s Environmental Health & Safety office as a way to coordinate and practice responses among the different agencies and departments and be equipped to handle a variety of hazardous material scenarios if they should arise.

In the emergency drill scenario, a biohazard situation will be reported at the South Farm near campus that results in a mass contamination incident near Reser Stadium. Responding units will have to deal with a scenario of exposure and decontamination, as well as a clandestine laboratory that may have biohazards.

Among the agencies participating are: local fire departments; the 102nd Civil Support Team of the Oregon National Guard, Hazmat teams from Corvallis and surrounding communities, the FBI, Oregon State Police; the Benton County Health Department; OSU Student Health Services, and OSU’s Environmental Health & Safety team.

For questions or more information, contact OSU biological safety officer Matthew Philpott at 541-737-4557.

~ Mark Floyd

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