Saturday, April 19, 2014
   
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Rescue Units Rehearse Ammonia Leak Drill

(Le Mars) -- The Le Mars Fire and Rescue Department was called to Dean's Foods last
evening for an ammonia leak.  That call came in at about 6:30 p.m.  It was reported that a
man was down at the milk processing facility and had fallen victim to inhaling ammonia as a leak had occurred from an ammonia truck.  Employees of the Dean's Food plant were evacuated from the facility...the Le Mars Fire and Rescue Department, along with the Le Mars Ambulance and the Le Mars Police Department responded to Dean's Foods. Businesses located within a three city block radius of Dean's Foods were informed of the potential danger.  Plymouth County Sheriff's Office, Plymouth County Communications and Plymouth County Emergency Management Services were also called to the scene, as was the Sioux City Fire Department's Haz Mat team.  It could have been a scary scenario, and it would be, if it was real.  But fortunately, it was only a drill.  The mentioned entities participated
in a mock simulated ammonia leak drill Wednesday evening.  Le Mars Fire Chief Dave Schipper says rehearsing an ammonia leak drill is good for everyone.

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Schipper says practicing such drills allows everyone to learn, and to be better prepared if such an emergency were to actually happen.

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The Le Mars Fire Chief had another trick up his sleeve with regards to the simulated drill.  He wanted to see how his fire and rescue crew would react to an emergency decontamination situation.

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Dean's Food's Plant Manager, Jarrod Otta explains why the milk company cooperates on such simulated drills.

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The Sioux City Fire Department's HazMat team was on the scene, equipped with air detector monitors to help calculate how much ammonia may have entered the atmosphere, as well as how large of an area would need to be evacuated.  Le Mars Police Chief Stuart Dekkenga says such a drill helps the police department plan for the unexpected.

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The drill lasted for about two and a half hours.

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