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Emergency drill slated Thursday at Lowville Climax plant

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LOWVILLE — An “explosion” at a major manufacturer here on Thursday will have local emergency personnel scrambling.

Fortunately, it will only be part of a simulated drill at the Climax Manufacturing Co. plant on Route 26 intended to test emergency providers and workers at the nearby Lewis County General Hospital.

“It’s going to be a learning experience,” said James M. Martin, Lewis County’s emergency services director.

The scenario of the drill, slated to take place from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., is that a group of 10 students is on a field trip at the manufacturing plant when one of them, whose parent was fired by the company, sets off an explosion in the area of the fork truck battery storage area. The explosion would cause at least one death and many more injuries, plus expose all the students to sulfuric acid.

Students in the New Visions program at the Howard G. Sackett Technical Center in Glenfield will serve as victims in the drill, Mr. Martin said.

The exercise will help test the county-owned hospital’s emergency management plan and preparation for a mass casualty incident, as well as utilize emergency operation centers, he said.

“I want to see how well we coordinate with the hospital’s EOC and the county EOC,” Mr. Martin said.

Local dispatch, law enforcement, fire and emergency medical services personnel will all participate in the exercise.

Hazardous material decontamination units from both the county and hospital will also be utilized.

“All the agencies are trying to work together,” Mr. Martin said.

Climax officials plan to keep employees out of one section of the mill for a couple of hours to accommodate for the exercise, he said.

Aside from training for emergency services and hospital personnel, the drill will allow plant officials to evaluate their emergency protocols and evacuation plan, Mr. Martin said.

“It will be good training for them, as well,” he said.

While the exercise will be handled as much like a real disaster as possible, Mr. Martin said, community members should not be alarmed by the scanner reports and emergency response activity.

“We want everybody to know about it,” he said.

As with any drill, involved personnel will be diverted from the exercise if a real emergency were to arise at the same time, Mr. Martin said.

While some volunteers will likely not be able to participate because of their work schedules, there should be ample personnel to test response procedures and inter-agency coordination, he said.

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