First responders taking HazMat incident classes

Local News

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) – First responders are called to many dangerous situations, but some are more challenging than others.

There’s a difference between being called to a house fire versus a giant leaking oil tanker on the side of the road. But these first responders are taking the steps to learn how to handle these situations no matter how hazardous.

As a HazMat specialist for the Sioux Falls Fire Rescue, Matt Mydland knows how to work a part of a team.

“We’re the task-oriented group. So, we go in and we do things regarding HazMat incidents so contain, mitigate, that kind of stuff,” Mydland said.

But in situations that involve hazards such as factory fires or chemical leaks, It’s likely an untrained first responder could reach the site first.

“If there was, yes, an overturned tanker on the interstate, it’s our assumption that the public would expect us to be able to go out in the incident and take care of that for them,” HazMat Chief & Battalion Chief David Jensen said.

That’s why, this week, firefighters and police officers from across the city have been studying up on Hazmat Incident command training.

“Most of the folks in there, this is the first time they’ve actually been exposed to the hazardous material-specific end of incident management,” Jensen said.

“There are certain chemicals in the city of Sioux Falls: chlorine, there’s some ammonia, so, those are the types of incidents, even household cleaners can be considered hazmat,” Mydland said.

The focus is teaching first responders how to take charge and plan ahead for extreme circumstances.

“How do we keep the environment safe, how do we keep our own people safe, so that’s kind of a big nuance. Then how we go about dealing with the incident that we have,” Jensen said.

And how to lead if they’re the one caught first on the scene.

“Taking command of an incident, assigning resources, getting resources, making sure the people on the scene are getting everything that they need and that the public is updated,” Mydland said.

Creating a safer environment for the public.

“Trying to provide value to our citizens. That’s just one of the things we strive to do well,” Jensen said.

The fire department puts on this course out at their training center every 2 or 3 years. It goes for an entire week.

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