First responders train to fight anhydrous ammonia

First responders had the opportunity to train with a tanker containing anhydrous ammonia. / Todd Bailey

First responders got a lesson on the best ways to deal with the hazardous chemical anhydrous ammonia.

Over the next two days, one hundred emergency personnel from counties as far north as Atlanta are finding the in's and out's of this dangerous chemical that has multiple uses.

"Famers use it in pesticides and fertilizers, it's used for products in cleaning, and the major industries use it. It's a very valuable legitimate chemical. Unfortunately, it's used as such things as methamphetamines" said Dougherty County EMS Director Jim Vaught.

This training is about more than being efficient on the job.

"The whole purpose is to save property and lives. We want to be sure that our first responders are trained, so if they get into harm's way they don't actually become a part of the problem, they are the solution," said Vaught.

"What we will do is simulate some leaks that can be repaired or at least slowed down and controlled until we can get an appropriate response to take care of the problem." said Virgil Fowler, Manger of Preparedness and Response.

If a hazardous situation occurs, making decisions are crucial to a success conclusion.

The benefits of the training that were performing today gives our emergency responders that are typically first on the scene the knowledge and the wisdom to make the right decisions to control a hazardous material incident in the transportation area," said Fowler

The hands portion of the training proved to be very valuable for Albany Fire Battalion Chief Kelly Harcrow.

"I've learned more about the properties of ammonia and hydrous ammonia itself, and what to kind of expected when we have a release and what characteristics to look for not only to keep the people around safe but our first responders safe as they approach it," said Harcrow.

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