Jun 30, 2011 9:51 PM by Shawn Kline

Homeland Security grades response to Multi-Chem disaster

A section of Admiral Doyle could be closed for at least another two weeks. Multi-Chem officials say the company is still cleaning-up the remnants of the fire which burned for nearly three days.
Since the explosion earlier this month, dozens of homes and businesses were evacuated, hundreds of claims filed and more than 800,000 air quality tests taken.
So, how well did first responders react to this emergency? KATC brought that question to Homeland Security's Prescott Marshall.

"It was immediately clear that we had a chain of command, an organization that could handle this." Marshall says, "it came together almost automatically."

While most everything went according to plan, Marshall says one thing to improve on is communications. During the explosions, everyone was on the phone at the same time; jamming communications towers. Marshall says it made cell phones useless.

"It is important for people to understand in an emergency like that, you may not be able to count on your cell phone," he says.

That's why Marshall is urging first responders to use new talk-group radios. He says even a simple text message was more efficient.

"It was the first time we've been able to take advantage of these capabilities," Marshall said. "We realized we can use these even more next time."

With the height of hurricane season just around the corner, these lessons learned may come in handy soon.



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