At 9 a.m. this morning, Oct. 6, emergency response teams began responding to a drill at FMC Bio Polymer in Rockland at the Crockett’s Point facility, with additional activity to take place at Pen Bay Medical Center’s Emergency Department in Rockport.

The Knox County Emergency Management Agency and Local Emergency Planning Committee are staging the drill, and participating organizations include Rockland Fire/EMS, RRT6 Knox Regional Response Team, Knox Regional Communications Center, Pen Bay Medical Center and the Maine Department of Environmental Protection.

The drill will incorporate policies and procedures in a coordinated response to the scenario. Units, personnel and equipment are to be mobilized much like they would in a real emergency. Missing, however, will be the lights and sirens which are only used in actual emergency responses, said Knox County Emergency Management Director Ray Sisk.

“While this is only a training exercise, it is intended to require a higher level of response coordination and performance from emergency responders in a multi-agency, multi-jurisdictional environment,” he said in an announcement of the drill.

The exercise is anticipated to end by 11:30 a.m. There are two parts to the exercise: The first involves an incident at FMC, which injures a few workers and requires a hazardous materials response from the Knox Regional Response Team. The team will deal with the injured and mitigate the problem at the plant. FMC will also be exercising its Integrated Contingency Plan during this phase of the exercise.

The second phase of the exercise is an increased influx of patients to the Emergency Department at PBMC. The department is to receive the workers “injured” from FMC along with an assortment of other ill and injured simulated “victims” from across the county. Personnel from Camden First Aid will be staging the victims from the physicians building at PBMC. This part of the exercise satisfies the annual Joint Commission accreditation requirement where the hospital must demonstrate its ability to handle an unusually large increase of Emergency Department visits with minimal notice.

There will be simultaneous activity at both exercise venues.

There will be increased exercise related radio communications on the Knox Regional Communications dispatch and tactical channels along with traffic on the PBMC EMS Medical Control (ambulance to hospital) frequencies.

“Accidents are rare,” said Rockland Fire & EMS Chief Charles Jordan, citing local industry “attention to detail, quality operational oversight and good proactive plant and process management” as key reasons local responder readiness is maintained through exercises rather than response to actual emergencies.

The agencies and organizations involved have been working together to plan this exercise since last winter.