Emergency workers and Home Gas staff took part in a simulated propane gas emergency last week – the first of its kind in the Cayman Islands.
On Wednesday, 28 March, police, fire, medical and hazard management emergency teams, as well as the petroleum inspectorate, answered a 911 call about an uncontrolled release of liquid propane gas in the area of the Home Gas depot on Walker’s Road in Grand Cayman. The emergency services knew in advance that they would be getting a call to the scene, but did not know exactly when or what form the exercise would take.
Chief Fire Officer Dennom Bodden said: “Although tabletop and actual emergency exercises are conducted periodically, this is the first coordinated response of this magnitude involving the propane plant.”
About a dozen vehicles were on the scene, including ambulances, fire engines and a ladder truck.
A portion of Walker’s Road was closed for a short time, but no evacuations were carried out during the exercise.
There have been simulated emergencies done in Grand Cayman in the past, usually involving mock disasters at the airport or relating to hurricanes, but this was the first exercise involving propane.
Dennis Cruise, a trainer and facilitator from the United States, worked closely with Dayne Brady, general manager of Home Gas, to bring the various agencies together for the exercise. After it was conducted, the agency leaders reconvened to evaluate the inter-operability during the large-scale manoeuvre.
“It was a great opportunity for everyone to work together and test their procedures and chains of command to properly handle an emergency LPG event,” Mr. Brady said.
The exercise included establishing a command post to coordinate communications between the various agency that responded to the “disaster”, site security, medical treatment of injured personnel and hazard mitigation through the collective efforts of the emergency responders and Home Gas personnel.
“Events presented during this exercise rarely occur due to the propane industry’s focus on safety,” Mr. Cruise said. “Even though the possibility of an uncontrolled propane release is extremely remote, it’s important to practice these skills to deal with this kind of emergency should it ever occur.”
In the exercise, members of Home Gas staff pretended to have been asphyxiated or injured during simulated leakage of liquid propane.
The temperature of liquid propane is minus 44 degrees, and can cause the types of burns more closely associated with freezer burns or frostbite, conditions EMS staff in Cayman have little opportunity to deal with.
For any questions or concerns regarding the safe use of propane in homes or businesses, call Katie O’Neill at Home Gas at 949-7474.