Trucks have enough supplies and equipment to decontaminate 200 people
As part of Illinois’ ongoing emergency-preparedness efforts, 22 specially equipped "decontamination vehicles" are being deployed statewide so they can provide quick assistance to victims of hazardous-material spills or other disasters, officials announced Monday.
Each truck contains enough supplies to decontaminate 200 people.
The vehicles started arriving in communities about a year ago, said Patti Thompson, spokeswoman for the Illinois Emergency Management Agency. Peoria, Rockford and Springfield, for instance, already have received one decontamination truck apiece.
Six other trucks will be delivered later this year in Pekin, Macomb, Quincy, Freeport, Naperville and southwestern Illinois/Edwardsville.
"They’re just another layer of preparedness that we’re staging across the state," Thompson said. "As they make them, they roll them out."
Each vehicle has indoor and outdoor decontamination areas. The indoor site includes six showerheads, and the outdoor site has four shower stations in a semi-enclosed awning area. The trucks are equipped with water-pressure controls, an onboard generator, a decontamination solution dispensing system and a 100-gallon water storage tank.
Additional special equipment is designed to ease the decontamination process for people who are unable to walk, including those lying on a stretcher.
Peoria Fire Chief Kent Tomblin said the decontamination truck there has been used only for training and has not officially responded to any alarms yet. Still, he’s glad the vehicle is ready to go, if circumstances call for it.
"We recognize that we do live in a world that can be dangerous.... We are the citizen-soldiers -- the police and fire (departments) and first responders," Tomblin said. "We need to be prepared."
A single vehicle costs about $251,000, including equipment and supplies, and 22 of them carry a combined price tag of more than $5.5 million. The state is paying for the vehicles with homeland security grants from the federal government.
The Illinois Terrorism Task Force worked with the Mutual Aid Box Alarm System, which is the fire services’ mutual-aid organization, to buy, equip and deploy the decontamination trucks.
MABAS considered several factors in placing the vehicles, including proximity to high-population centers and universities. Each recipient had to have an existing hazardous-materials response team.
Adriana Colindres can be reached at (217) 782-6292 or email@example.com.