Crawfordsville, Ind. — Safety industry professionals were invited to rural Montgomery County recently at the request of Ceres Solutions. The purpose of the gathering on September 10, 2019, was to provide advanced training on how to best respond to an environmental incident.
“Actually, our purpose is to promote stewardship and safety in one of the most memorable ways we know how,” said Senior Risk Manager Phil Pirtle. “With the permission of a local landowner and the support of several local agencies, we create a controlled situation that mimics an environmental disaster. Then we give our group of safety coordinators a hands-on experience. We actually walk through each action step of what we do in the event of such an emergency, and we share strategies of what we are doing every day to prevent one.”
In this particular training exercise, Pirtle invited Risk Coordinators from the Indiana Risk Coordinators group, officials from IDEM, Indiana State Chemist and Agri-Insurance, and several nearby agricultural retailers. “A local contractor –Busse’s Excavating– donated his and his employee’s time and equipment for the day to assist me with this training, and we really appreciate that,” said Pirtle. On the scene, Pirtle and others demonstrated the critical importance of having the right supplies assembled and available for immediate deployment… He and fellow Ceres Solutions Risk Coordinator Tom Manlove showed participants the resource they maintain in a specially designated Ceres Solutions Hazmat Trailer.
There was a mix of experienced veterans and fresh new faces among the group, which enjoyed a mock drill, fellowship and lunch courtesy of Ceres Solutions. Businesses represented included Kova Fertilizer, White River Co-op, Ag Plus, Posey County Co-op, AgriInsurance, and Co-Alliance. Many in attendance had decades of experience in the safety and risk management field. “Some of us might even be competitors across lines in our businesses,” observed Pirtle, “But in the event of an incident, we would all have each other’s backs.” Pirtle believes sharing safe practices and incident management techniques are critical.
“None of us can ride on yesterday’s record of safety. You have to earn it by managing every risk all over again every single day, so we never stop training.” Pirtle especially enjoys hosting events where newer Risk Coordinators gain hands-on experience at containing and cleaning up spills in water under a controlled environment. The event also gives more experienced industry representatives a chance to refresh their skills.
During several hours of training, two types of spill scenarios were simulated; one mimicking a petroleum product (which floats on water) and the other mimicking crop chemistry, which would mix with the waterway. Several types of spill recovery tools and materials were pulled from the Hazmat trailer for use, and different types of dams and barriers were tested for efficacy. Those who had never constructed a dam in the field learned how to do so. Water testing equipment and procedures such as setting a baseline and cleaning up a site were also demonstrated. And finally, the group learned what critical information must be collected to appropriately report and complete regulatory documents for submission to various agencies. IDEM representatives and the State Chemist office staff were on hand offering their expert advice throughout the day. “We appreciate these partners in safety from the State who gave their time. Through each scenario, we stopped at intervals to ask them questions, get answers and talk through best options,” noted Pirtle.
While the temperatures climbed into the 90s and some participants had driven three or four hours for the event, all agreed it was worth the time. They not only enjoyed a good meal in the shade, they came away with a greater understanding of environmental risks and prevention techniques. They are even better prepared for protecting their communities and natural resources; Pirtle considers that a day well spent. If you’d like to learn more about creating a Hazmat Response Trailer for your community or about hosting safety training events, contact Pirtle at Ceres Solutions at (765)362-6700.
To learn more about Ceres Solutions, visit www.ceres.coop or follow us on social media.
— Ceres Solutions
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