It may have looked like a major incident scene, but it was all just a training Friday afternoon as multiple local fire agencies came together in El Dorado Hills Friday to demonstrate and practice how they would respond to an actual incident involving a damaged gas line involving casualties and potential threats to the community. The drill was one of two events to take place locally with Folsom Fire participating in an additional mass casualty mock training in the same week.

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It was all part of 811 Day. 811 Day is an annual initiative led by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) to ensure the practice of safe digging is echoed in communities by calling 8-1-1, a nationwide toll-free number, before any excavation project.

The El Dorado Hills Fire Department was the host agencies for the event, teaming with Pacific Gas and Electric to set up a mock scene replicating that of an actual damaged gas line on a well populated construction site. Members of the Folsom Fire Department participated in the drill along with the Cameron Park Fire Department, the El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office and the California State Fire Firefighters Association. 

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In the collaborative simulation event, a fencing contractor started digging without contacting 811. In the mock incident, the contractor eventually dug into a gas line which resulted in a leak and an active fire. Emergency crews responded to control the scene and following the proper procedures to provide aid to injured members of the community on site, controlling the active fire and repairing the gas leak to eliminate the danger.

The simulation helped to keep first responders ready should such an incident occur in the community. The event also raised awareness for the importance of using the free service, by calling 811, to have any underground lines located before initiating any type of excavation or digging work. 

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811 is the national call-before-you-dig phone number. Anyone who plans to dig should call 811 or go to their state 811 center’s website a few business days before digging to request that the approximate location of buried utilities be marked with paint or flags so that you don’t unintentionally dig into an underground utility line.

Hitting a buried line while digging can disrupt utility service, cost money to repair, or cause serious injury or death. Always contact your 811 center, wait the required time for utilities to respond to your request, and ensure that all utilities have responded to your request before putting a shovel in the ground. Lean more at www.call811.com.

811 Day is an annual initiative led by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) to ensure the practice of safe digging is echoed in communities by calling 8-1-1, a nationwide toll-free number, before any excavation project. You can learn more at www.call811.com

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In addition to participating in the gas line response simulation, members of the Folsom Fire Department participated in an additional training drill last Saturday which focused on responding to a mass casualty incident. The training drill took place in collaboration with the 872nd Ground Ambulance Company Army Reserve Unit.

The drill involved a mock incident in which multiple casualties had occurred. First responders gained hands on experience in patient assessment, triage and transport techniques in a rural setting.

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Bill Sullivan
Author: Bill Sullivan