Monroe contracts out for hazmat services #pahazmat

By Andrew Scott
Pocono Record Writer
March 03, 2011
Like many Pennsylvania counties, Monroe has too few hazardous materials incidents to justify paying the high cost of having its own hazmat team, said Deputy Director Bruce Henry of the Monroe County Office of Emergency Services.

It’s cheaper to contract for hazmat services, which is what Monroe does with a New York-based company called Environmental Protection Services, Henry said.

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‘Detergent suicide’ foiled at Tobyhanna State Park”Our county sees only four to five incidents a year involving chemical spills or leaks,” he said. “Paying hundreds of thousands of dollars to have equipment and personnel deal only with chemical incidents that don’t happen very often is cost-prohibitive. So, we contract with EPS, but we don’t pay them. Federal law requires whoever causes the incidents to pay. No tax dollars are involved.”

The hazmat team, which Henry said has an office in Lackawanna County, was called Tuesday to clean and decontaminate a car in Tobyhanna State Park in Coolbaugh Township.

This was shortly after a 23-year-old man had been in the car, attempting suicide by inhaling a poisonous mixture of household chemicals, Pocono Mountain Regional Police said.

Firefighters removed the man from the car, after which he was decontaminated and taken to Pocono Medical Center for a mental health evaluation.

Police as of Wednesday had not released the man’s identity or condition.

“Suicides and attempted suicides involving dangerous chemicals are even rarer in our area than other types of hazmat emergencies,” Henry said.

There are three levels of hazmat response training, Henry said. The first level, which federal law requires all firefighters to undergo, is awareness, or what to do at a hazmat scene.

The second level is operations, or containing the leak or spill to its area of origin. Most volunteer and paid firefighters in the state take it upon themselves to be trained at this level, though they’re not required by law to do so, Henry said.

The third is the technician level, which is for only haz-mat personnel and involves stopping the leak or spill.

“The OES, firefighters, paramedics, police and hazmat personnel have always successfully worked together in addressing these types of incidents,” Henry said.

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