15 December 2021 Media Release: Garden Route DM HAZMAT crash simulation conducted in Hessequa

Media Release: Garden Route DM HAZMAT crash simulation conducted in Hessequa

For Immediate Release
15 December 2021

The Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM) collaboratively conducted an emergency preparedness exercise (EPE) recently, along the N2 at the Still Bay turn-off, with the Hessequa Municipality, Emergency Medical Services (EMS) as well as emergency response staff. The primary purpose of this particular simulation was to test the current systematic approach in dealing with a hazardous material (HAZMAT) incident in a safe manner.

“Our experience and knowledge of past incidents inform many of our responses; however, we need also to be adaptable to the unknown,” said Martina MacDonald, GRDM Disaster Management Officer in Hessequa.

“During this type of incident, we assess the response, collaboration and communication of stakeholders during a disaster-related incident.”

The EPE simulation involved a tanker carrying a hazardous substance (UN 1828) that collided with a light motor vehicle. This led to a HAZMAT spill from the tanker and resulted in injuries and death.

A debriefing session took place whereby all stakeholders raised matters that required attention. “Refresher training, compatibility of radio communication, and crowd control were some of the issues identified that require attention,” said MacDonald.

The GRDM considers EPEs as the most vital part of learning about emergencies, plans and procedures experimentally.

According to Gerhard Otto, GRDM Head of Disaster Management, the GRDM needs to ensure that what is written on paper can be used in real life. “The Garden Route Disaster Management Centre, in collaboration with Local Municipalities and first responders, resolved to do more of these types of simulations and exercises,” said Otto.

According to him, Covid-19 has resulted in face-to-face exercises being limited and for most preparedness exercises to be done as informal, discussion-based sessions. “This specific simulation was done when Covid-19 positive cases were at its lowest point towards the end of the third wave of the Covid-19 pandemic in the Garden Route,” concluded Otto.