First responders come together to compare resources

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - First responders from a three-parish area met Friday with members of the chemical industry to compare resources in the event of an emergency.

The second annual GMA/CAER Mutual Aid Day was held Friday at the Lamar Dixon Expo center. Exhibit booths and emergency response equipment from all the local industrial facilities were on display. The reason for the conference is to display and share chemical plant resources across Ascension, Iberville and St. James Parishes.

GAMA, which stands for Geismer Area Mutual Aid, is a voluntary organization of area chemical industries. CAER, or Community Awareness Emergency Response, is another volunteer organization with member companies offering to provide and receive emergency mutual aid assistance.

"To share resources in case there is some kind of incident that happens at any one of these industrial facilities. Today is the day where they show off all those resources and say 'hey I got this, I got a truck, got a Haz mat unit, I got a rescue unit'," says James LeBlanc, the event chair. "We've been struck here in the past six months with a couple serious incidents involving industry," says Leblanc.

The president of the Louisiana Chemical Association, Dan Borne was the keynote speaker. "We're talking about emergency response. We're talking about the responsibility of the plants to cooperate with the local authorities so that when accidents do happen they can be responded to and the public safety can be preserved," says Borne. "It's key to have information into the hands of the emergency responders as quickly as possible, that's the key. If something were to happen whether it was significant release or an accident that is going to involve injury or any kind of offsite impact the communication needs to go from the plant to the first responders immediately," said Borne.

The group vows to return again next year.

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