Emergency workers can check out new decontamination rig
Stan Fisher , Register Correspondent 08/21/2004
CLINTON — A big red trailer with the words "Mass Decontamination Unit" in large letters does not mean a catastrophe is under way at today’s Bluefish Festival.

The $140,000 rig is there to allow the town’s police, firefighters, and emergency personnel to practice radio communications for an actual emergency and to show residents the type of equipment available for a crisis.

The decontamination unit was developed in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Twenty-four of the units were purchased by the state and distributed to various state and local agencies, including the Guilford Fire Department unit on display at the festival.

Jeremy Hansen, director of the town’s Office of Emergency Management, said the truck and one in Old Saybrook given to the state’s Department of Environmental Protection are available to any Shoreline community in need of its unique capabilities.

Clinton personnel will use it to practice the use of its ITAC/ICALL radio system, a self-contained communications center with portable radios that allow all agencies to communicate through one system, Hansen said.

The system, in development for years, was accelerated after the problems created on Sept. 11 for New York City police officers and firefighters by their inability to communicate with one another on their separate radio systems.

Hansen, a dispatcher in the town’s communications center, said he experienced a similar situation in an emergency recently, when a Clinton police officer and a firefighter, on separate radio systems, simultaneously were attempting to talk to him.

The truck’s principal use is for the decontamination of individuals exposed to hazardous agents, whether in an industrial accident or through an act of terrorism.

The truck has self-contained water and power systems and can be extended in length another 30 feet with tents, in which people exposed to hazardous materials can be hosed down in their clothing.

They then would enter the truck to dispose of their clothing and take showers to remove the residue.

©New Haven Register 2004

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