Fire Rescue Chief Discusses Hazmat Protocol

Lenhart displays a Hazmat suit. Photo by Hannah Stepenoff.
Lenhart displays a Hazmat suit. Photo by Hannah Stepenoff.

After a recent false Ebola report at a local motel, reporter Hannah Stepenoff caught up with Sheridan Fire-Rescue Chief Terry Lenhart to discuss how the department deals with these possible threats. Here is the story.

Though the recent incident at the Trail's End Motel in Sheridan, in which a man claimed to have the Ebola virus, was a false alarm, Sheridan Fire-Rescue and other first responders were on the scene quickly after the initial emergency calls, remedying the situation within a few hours.

Sheridan Fire-Rescue Chief Terry Lenhart spoke with Sheridan Media about how the department deals with biological threats or other hazardous materials. He explains the general protocol for dealing with these situations in more depth.

He said 12 of the 15 firefighters in the department have reached the top level of state certification, or technician level, for national standards in regard to Hazmat protocol. The remaining three are at the second level of certification called the operational level. Lenhart explains.

There are four nationally recognized Hazmat hazardous levels, A through D, with A requiring the most protective gear. Each level requires a different type of suit, he said, and the virus is categorized as a level B hazard, which means the hazard is spread through contact or fluids.

He said generally the biggest hazardous concern for the area is transportation based. Numerous chemicals are transported on the interstate daily, he said, and if there was an accident the department would be on hand to remove hazardous materials. In case of a larger emergency, the department is part of a bigger regional response team centered in Gillette.

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