Eighteen Oahu students have been preparing for weeks to make sure they can handle the threat of a hazardous material spill.
A mock emergency was held at Honolulu Community College Saturday morning. "There was a hazardous spill at the college," said HCC student Justin Kessler.
The drill was designed to look just like an actual hazardous materials emergency. "We try to make it as close to real life as possible," said HCC professor Chulee Grove.
The students took part in the test which was also the final exam for their accelerated course in environmental safety. The drill required students to safely enter a hot zone, check for victims and identify hazardous materials.
"We're talking about things that can be toxic to the body, cause suffocation, things that can cause long term health effects negative effects," said Kessler.
Those chemicals aren't just found in laboratories or manufacturing plants. In fact, you don't have to go far to find chemicals that can cause problems if not properly used or contained. "You could go to any kitchen sink and find hazardous materials from ammonia to clean your glass, to lye to clean your sink, to bleach to wash your clothes," said Kessler.
The training gave students a chance to see what happens during a hazardous materials spill, although the test was much more controlled than an actual emergency. "It was really very small and very contained. In real life, it won't be contained and controlled. An actual hazardous materials spill would be much more chaotic," said Grove.
The drill resulted in a grade for the students but it also helped prepare them for a real emergency, when knowing the right thing to do could be a life or death difference.
The next 10 week-long hazardous materials safety course will be held at HCC August 2012.