Prairie du Chien hosts Upper Mississippi River Response Exercise

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The Upper Mississippi River Response Exercise was held Aug. 8, at Lawler Park. First responders and local, state and federal agencies practiced a coordinated response to a simulated hazmat railroad derailment along the Mississippi.

By Peyton Meisner

 

Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Railway hosted a specialized training and on-river exercise in Prairie du Chien Aug. 8. A classroom tabletop exercise was held in the morning and was followed by a boom deployment and response activity on the Missippi River. The training exercise helped practice coordination and response among first responders and local, state and federal agencies to a simulated railroad derailment involving hazardous materials on the Upper Mississippi River. 

“The hands-on aspect is huge,” Jim Hackett, Crawford County director of emergency management, said. “We want to make sure we are prepared in the event of a train derailment.”

The exercise focused on the Upper Mississippi geographic response strategies and demonstrated the capability of stakeholders working together to minimize and mitigate the impacts of a potential crude oil spill, according to a BNSF press release. 

“A BNSF hazmat responder wouldn’t be able to get to an accident in our area for hours, so it’s imperative that our fire department, first responders and police officers must be educated and trained on how to handle the situation,” Hackett explained.

He said this training will continue in the future. “We plan on having this training done bi-annually. This was an important event and BNSF made for a great partner to work with,” Hackett said.

Those also involved in setting the exercise up were Prairie du Chien Fire Chief Jeff Boughton and Crawford County Sheriff Dale McCullick.

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