Suffering the effects of a major chemical spill is not an incident the emergency services look forward to. Luckily however, it is something they prepare for.
On Tuesday, that is exactly what will be taking place at the site of Fuentes Fertilizantes on the El Saladar industrial zone in the Murcia town of Totana.
The major emergency protocol will be implemented bringing the fire service, Guardia Civil, Police, Civil Defence, Cruz Roja and other emergency services together in a simulation of a chemical spill.
The simulated incident will see the chemical spill threaten to release a toxic cloud in the area, classifying the situation as a “level 3” emergency (leading to potential victims, serious property damage or serious disturbance of the environment over wide area), which will thus activate the external Emergency Chemical Industry Plan Level 1 (incidents which can be controlled with the means of intervention available in the Community requiring measures for the protection of persons, property or the environment).
First on the scene will be the fire service, who will then call for assistance from their colleagues in other emergency services, with the Protección Civil next to arrive. They will broadcast emergency messages through a loud speaker system warning people of the dangers and the actions to take to protect themselves.
A mobile emergency centre will be set up in Totana for measuring air quality whilst an emergency medical tent is also constructed, along with a command unit where representatives of all the attending emergency services will coordinate their activities.
Although the event is a simulation and therefore there will be no risk to the public, there may be some disruption throughout the day as the emergency services go about practising for an incident that everybody hopes will never happen, but one for which everybody will now be prepared.