- Guidelines for Incident Command
- Arrival on Scene, Initiation of Response, see:
- General Guidelines for Responding to a Fire
- General Guidelines for Responding to a Spill or Leak
- Developing a Plan and Response Strategy
Guidelines for Incident Command
- Establish Incident Command System (FEMA).
- Approach site with caution.
Position personnel, vehicles, and command post at a safe distance upwind and uphill of the site, if possible.
- Ensure safety of responders.
- Identify all hazards (danger of fire, explosion, toxic fumes, electrical hazards, structural collapse, etc.).
- Obtain information concerning the chemicals from placards, labels, shipping documents, and other immediately available sources.
- Consult Emergency Response Guidebook (PDF - 4.7 MB) (2016 Emergency Response Guidebook: A Guidebook for First Responders During the Initial Phase of a Dangerous Goods/Hazardous Materials Incident, Department of Transportation, 2016). (Online version at Transport Canada) (Mobile apps)
- Consult NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards for symptoms, measurement methods, and PPE recommendations.
- Keep upwind of smoke, fumes, etc.
- Follow usual protocols for respiratory protection, use of protective clothing (link to PPE page), and turnout gear.
- Monitor changing conditions that could create hazardous situations.
- Locate victims and facilitate extrication, emergency care, and transportation of the injured, following EMS guidelines. Do not delay rescue or transport of a seriously injured, contaminated patient.
- Communications: Notify hospital of possible contamination/exposure of victim.
- Establish a control zone.
- Reroute traffic.
- Mark controlled area by use of ropes or tapes.
- Limit entry to rescue personnel only.
- Order evacuation or sheltering as needed.
- Prevent/fight fires as if toxic chemicals are involved.
- Ensure contamination control.
- Do not allow eating, drinking, smoking, or other activities within contaminated areas that might lead to intake of chemical.
- Avoid direct contact with materials where possible. Utilize protective clothing and anything available for remote handling (shovels, branches, ropes, etc.).
- Limit time near chemicals to the minimum necessary. Rotate staff as necessary.
- Evacuate personnel from the immediate downwind area. Detain personnel who were in the accident area until they can be decontaminated (link to DECON page).
- Wrap, label, and isolate all clothing, tools, etc., used in the controlled area and retain them until they can be decontaminated.
- Determine if measures are needed to contain all accident debris in the control zone until cleanup is achieved. Prevent unnecessary handling of incident debris.
- Record the names and addresses of all persons involved (including those who insist on leaving the area), rescuers, those removed for medical attention, and ambulance personnel.
- Make detailed records of the incident.
- Remain calm.
General Guidelines for Responding to a Fire
- Some materials may react with water or water vapor in air to form a hazardous vapor.
- Small Fires: use dry chemical, CO2, Halon, water spray, or regular foam.
Large Fires: use water spray, fog, or regular foam.
- Move undamaged containers from fire area if you can do it without risk. Do not touch damaged containers.
- Cool any containers that are exposed to flames with water from the side until well after fire is out.
- Fight fire if toxic chemicals are involved, by keeping upwind and avoiding smoke, fumes, gases, and dusts.
- For massive fire in cargo area, use unmanned hose holder or monitor nozzles; if this is impossible, withdraw from area and let fire burn.
- Stay away from ends of tanks. Withdraw immediately in case of rising sound from a venting safety device or if there is discoloration of tanks due to fire. Fight fires from maximum distance.
- As much as possible, form barrier to contain fire, water that may be contaminated with chemicals.
Use established fire-fighting procedures and protocols.
General Guidelines for Responding to a Spill or Leak
- Shut off ignition sources; no flares, smoking, or flames in hazard area.
- Keep combustibles (wood, paper, oil, etc.) away from spilled material.
- Do not touch spilled material. Do not touch damaged containers or move anything, except to rescue people.
- Detour pedestrian and vehicular traffic.
- Detain anyone who has been in the area of the spill or area of suspected contamination (except for victims requiring emergency medical care).
- Delay cleanup until the authorities arrive.
- Minimize dispersal of material (by wind, rain, etc.) by covering with a tarp, plastic sheet, etc. Tie down or use weights as necessary.
- If a right-of-way must be cleared before emergency assistance arrives, move vehicles and debris the shortest distance required to open a pathway. Then, before permitting traffic to pass on the cleared path, spillage should be washed or wetted and swept to the edge with a minimum dispersal of wash water and spilled material.
- If experts are not able to get to the scene within a reasonable period of time because of weather or other constraints and prompt action is required, do the following:
- Small Spills: Cover with sand or other noncombustible absorbent material and place into containers for later disposal.
- Large Spills: Build a dike far ahead of the spill to contain spilled material for later disposal.
Developing a Plan and Response Strategy (The Golden Rules)
Owners/managers of hazardous installations should:
- know what risks exist at their hazardous installations;
- promote a "safety culture," which is known and accepted throughout the enterprise;
- implement a safety management system, which is regularly reviewed and updated;
- prepare for any accident that might occur.
Workers at hazardous installations should:
- make every effort to be informed and to provide feedback to management;
- be proactive in helping to inform and educate the community.
Public authorities should:
- provide leadership and motivate stakeholders to improve chemical accident prevention, preparedness and response;
- develop, enforce and continuously improve regulations, policies, programs and practices;
- help ensure that there is effective communication and co-operation among stakeholders.
The public should:
- be aware of the risks in their community and what to do in the event of an accident;
- co-operate with local authorities and industry in emergency planning and response.
- Guidance on Developing Safety Performance Indicators related to Chemical Accident Prevention, Preparedness and Response. (OECD/Environment Directorate)
- Emergency Response Guidebook (2016 Emergency Response Guidebook: A Guidebook for First Responders During the Initial Phase of a Dangerous Goods/Hazardous Materials Incident, DOT, 2016)
- NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards (HHS/CDC/NIOSH)
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