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Marquette County agencies participate in hazmat training with Michigan National Guard

The training exercise showed emergency responders how to handle hazmat situations and it also gave them access to equipment used in the dangerous situations.
Published: Sep. 16, 2020 at 12:59 PM EDT
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MARQUETTE, Mich. (WLUC) - Emergency personnel crews gathered at the old UP Health System Marquette location Wednesday for a learning experience.

The training exercise involved local law enforcement and fire crews working with the Michigan National Guard to learn about how to handle hazmat situations.

“Typically we have a full-scale exercise every month. So we often go to all the regions of Michigan,” said Lt. Col. Kelly Black, Commander of the 51st Weapons of Mass Destruction Civil Support Team.

And it’s more than just a training exercise -- it’s also exposure to the Guard team’s top notch equipment available.

That included mobile laboratories, wide-range communication trucks, decontamination line to clean, contain and dispose -- and upgraded suits for a higher level of protection that local agencies didn’t have access to before.

“The typical plastic suit on the most caustic chemical, it might burn in say 15 minutes. Whereas these with the higher level of protection might get you say 90 minutes,” Lt. Col. Black.

“You know they’re putting the suits and some equipment locally so our people -- if they got called to a situation could use these suits. Or they have them where they can send people up and all the equipment is already here,” said Marquette County Sheriff Greg Zyburt.

The county’s specialized hazmat unit trains exclusively with the National Guard. The big exercise Wednesday: to be better prepared for large-scale chemical disasters and protect communities.

“This is what they do for a living. So when they get called, they’re the ones we want. Analyzing and making sure the community is safe," Sheriff Zyburt said.

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