Contrary to what local teenagers may believe, a chemical spill is no laughing matter. It can contaminate the water supply, pollute the environment, and cause serious, immediate and long-term injuries.
The first two things you should do if you witness a chemical spill is call 911 and try to get at least one-half mile, or further, from the danger area. If you are caught outside during an incident, you should try to stay upstream, uphill and upwind of the spill. If you are in a motor vehicle, stop and find shelter in a building, if possible. If you must remain in your car, keep the car windows and vents closed and shut off the air conditioner or heater. Do not eat food or drink water that may have been contaminated. Most of all, carefully follow all instructions given by emergency management officials.
If you are a first responder, the importance of preparing for these disasters cannot be stressed enough. Dr. Mark A. Kirk, director of the Medical Simulation Center at the University of Virginia, recommends calling for backup immediately following a chemical spill in an article published in the Journal of Emergency Medical Services. Communication with local hospitals is critical. Be sure to give them advanced notice so they can prepare to receive patients transported from the scene or those who self-evacuate. Record and report similar signs and symptoms to the receiving hospitals and provide information about the extent of decontamination performed at the scene to avoid wasting precious time at the hospital duplicating decontamination efforts already performed. Remember to protect yourself before entering any contaminated area by donning appropriate personal protective equipment. You need to take care of yourself to effectively take care of others.
First responders know that they can get a call at anytime about a wide variety of emergency situations; that’s what they train for. Whether you are first responder or not, if you have been injured in a chemical spill you need an experienced attorney to help you recover compensation from liable parties.