News

Annual exercise stretches Sandia's emergency response muscles

By Lindsey Kibley

Photography By Randy Montoya

Thursday, June 09, 2016

More than 200 employees from across the Labs participated June 15 in the 2016 Emergency Management full-scale exercise at Sandia/New Mexico. Emergency Management uses the annual event as a self-assessment to verify the effectiveness of its program in accordance with the site’s plans and procedures and the DOE order covering the comprehensive emergency management system. This year, two NNSA site field offices and emergency management personnel from Pantex, Oakridge, and  Central New Mexico Community College observed and evaluated the Labs’ response efforts.

The response was coordinated from Sandia's Emergency Operations Center.

The exercise began on a seemingly typical work day at the Hazardous Waste Handling Unit Facility (Bldgs. 958/959) that soon turned grave. In the scenario, a forklift driver handling four 55-gallon drums of sulfuric acid was negotiating a loading ramp when he realized a bee was in the forklift. Being deathly allergic to bee stings, he immediately jerked the wheel in panic. The forklift and its contents flipped off of the ramp and onto a pallet of potassium cyanide that was waiting to be loaded.

"Victims" were decontaminated after potential exposure to dangerous chemicals.

A coworker attempted to extract the driver, who sustained a hand injury and contamination. The coworker was subsequently contaminated and both required immediate assistance.

Emergency response teams were dispatched the area to assess the casualties. The patients were triaged, decontaminated, and “sent” to an area hospital for additional care. After ensuring the safety of the workforce, responders resolved the incident and the exercise ended successfully.

One "injured" individual was taken to a local hospital.