PortMiami drill stages response to leak of hazardous materials

PORT MIAMI, Fla. (WSVN) — Members of the armed forces teamed up with several South Florida police and firefighters, as well as private units, to stage a drill at PortMiami, Saturday.

The event aimed to prepare crews for a real hazardous-materials emergency. In one exercise, crews wore specialized protective clothing while they rappelled from helicopters and secured a container.

Miami-Dade Fire Rescue spokesperson Rafael Pozo explained why practicing drills like this is so important. “Under a large scenario such as this, we would be working together for days, if not weeks, if the scenario called for it,” he said, “so it’s important for us to have our movement coordinated, and this is what that helps us to do.”

The objective of Saturday’s drill was to prepare for the arrival of a large container ship that is leaking hazardous materials into the bay. Fire rescue boats also took part in the training exercise, with a camera drone capturing it all from above.

Officials said it’s a routine operation in order to plan for the unexpected. “These type of drills happen throughout the year but on different scales,” said Pozo. “This is a larger scale drill. We do smaller scale drills with the military [Civil Support Team] units at least two, three times a year.”

The training operation’s ultimate goal is to keep South Floridians safe. “In our communities’ time of need, we can provide that support in a timely fashion, so that we get that aid to the people who need it the most, the fastest,” said one participant.

Officials spent the rest of the day performing several tactical tests centered around chemical detection and containment.

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