Five people received treatment last week after a dimethylamine leak at Taminco in Pace. (Two of those actually work at the facility and another was a truck driver on the scene at the time - the other two were Lifeguard Ambulance employees.) To those living in the Pace area, it was easy to know something had happened: those alarms started going off.
The alarms were plenty loud and were easy to hear even from inside homes with doors closed. On Sundays, the facility tests the system. The loud "beeps" are typically followed by a voice telling residents "this is only a test." No such message followed last week's release therefore, the event was real, but we find ourselves wondering: do Pace residents actually know what to do in the event of a leak?
When equipment is tested so regularly, it is easy to start paying little attention. Years ago, there was a turtle "mascot". This colorful critter went to schools and taught children how to do as he does: shelter in place. He would explain that, in times of emergency, he pulls himself inside his house (shell) and seals up the entrance. Similarly, he would tell children how they could safely shelter in their home.
What happened to this little fella? Does he still make the rounds? What about the rest of Pace? Should not residents regularly be education on sheltering in place?
As YOUR newspaper, expect a story soon explaining this procedure. In the meantime, we thought we would take this opportunity to simply ask our residents if you know what you are expected to do in the event of a leak - and are you prepared to do so?
Some of the actions include:
1.) Close all doors
2.) Close all windows
3.) Roll up wet towels and place them along the bottom of doors - covering any cracks
4.) Turn off any heating or air conditioning equipment that might be pulling air from outside.
Similar comments could be made about the County's hurricane evacuation plans and emergency preparedness.
Ever so often, the public needs to be reeducated, lest they begin to take things for granted and forget what is expected of them in an emergency. With the influx of people coming and going from any community, regular disbursal of information is necessary.
This will be particularly true this hurricane season. It has now been almost eight years since Santa Rosa residents had to deal with a direct hurricane hit. Many residents have already begun to be complacent - others simply were not here.
We say all this to remind those in charge of keeping us safe, to also keep us informed. History is full of examples of people NOT doing what was expected of them.