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Emergency service workers want to improve response

Floods, drownings and crashes involving

hazardous chemicals.

Emergency services workers will tell you these kinds of emergencies are out of the ordinary and require not only special skill, but also

specialized equipment. And more than anything, an immediate response is crucial.

Some Lawrence County emergency service personnel want to do a better job of handling these kinds of calls. They're taking steps toward creating a special response team.

Lawrence County Fire Fighters Association President Tommy Burcham asked Thursday for the county commission's blessing in the matter.

"If a tanker overturns, no one here has the equipment to handle this," Burcham said. "We need chemical suits and other things no one in the county has."

He also pointed out that recently, when a Rome Township teen-ager drowned in the Ohio River, Lawrence County had to seek assistance from Cabell County, W.Va. Cabell County Emergency Medical Services provided scuba divers and a boat for the search.

While Lawrence Countians are grateful for the help, they realize waiting on assistance from other agencies takes up critical time.

"It's something that's been needed previously," Burcham said. "Not just because of the drowning. The need's been there for years."

"Fire departments have always relied on each other, " Rome Volunteer Fire Department Captain J.L. Irwin added. "But a specialized emergency response team would take care of things that everyday fire departments don't face."

Irwin noted that several people in the county have specialized training, but they're scattered out.

An emergency response team would coordinate the talents of people throughout the county, he said.

He also pointed out that the equipment needed for such a team is beyond the budget of most of the area's volunteer fire departments and local governments. But acting together, the cost could be spread out among all the emergency agencies in the county.

Acting in unison, perhaps grants could be obtained to pay for the costly gear. Teresa Moore/The Ironton Tribune