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Crews practice HAZMAT drill

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A woman is carried by firefighters from the scene of a HAZMAT drill involving a van and a train.


The Daily Advance

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

What started as an accident between a van and a train quickly turned into a more deadly scenario involving the plague — but luckily it was only a hazardous materials drill played out in Perquimans and Chowan counties on Saturday.

About 100 emergency officials, including firefighters, paramedics and emergency management workers took part in the session, which started in Winfall and included Vidant Chowan Hospital.

The effort was coordinated by the Chowan-Perquimans Local Emergency Management Planning Committee, said Jonathan Nixon, Perquimans County’s EMS director.

In the exercise, a van ran into the side of a Chesapeake and Albemarle train at a crossing. In the process, lime spilled from a train car and coated the scene.

Firefighters removed four people from the vehicle and they were transported to Vidant Chowan Hospital. But in the process of getting the people out, firefighters discovered a metal cylinder that was hissing. Tests indicated it contained the plague.

Mary Spruill, emergency management coordinator for Vidant Chowan Hospital and Vidant Bertie Hospital said the “victims” were actually transported to Edenton and nurses met the ambulances outside to see the patients. She said the drill was limited because the emergency room actually was busy at that time.

Spruill said the nurses went out to meet the ambulances because “you don’t know what you are dealing with at that point.”

Nixon said that as part of the exercise, state officials estimated where the plume of plaque could have been carried by the wind and law enforcement staged a simulated effort to notify the residents in that area.

Su Son, the general manager of the railroad watched the scene unfold.

“It’s good to see them doing this,” he said.

If the event were real, an emergency shelter would have been set up at Perquimans County High School, officials said.

The drill continued on Monday when staff from Albemarle Regional Health Services worked through how they might get antibiotics in the hands of people who needed them to fight off the plague. That meeting was planned for Edenton.

In the drill, a bus fitted out to be an ambulance was actually brought over from Currituck County and tractor-trailers with emergency equipment from Williamston arrived at the scene. If the event were real, some of that may have taken a lot longer to get to the scene than the four hours the drill lasted Saturday.

The drill included a decontamination area where HAZMAT crews who were near the leaking tank could clean up.


Humans of Greenville


Local photographer Joe Pellegrino explores Greenville to create a photographic census of its people.

Crime and Rescue

July 17, 2019

A woman’s 15-year-old son stole her car then returned it home while deputies were present, according to a case report released by the Pitt County Sheriff’s Office.

The incident took place about 2:12 a.m. July 16 at a home on the 1600 block of Anderson Road, the report said.


July 17, 2019

Greenville Fire-Rescue expects to receive two new inflatable boats along with other search and rescue gear all thanks to a large state allocation to swift water rescue teams.

The state will allocate more than $2 million to teams across the state for new rescue equipment, including 46 inflatable…

July 17, 2019

Residents will have an opportunity to critique the Greenville Police Department next month during a public information session that’s part of the agency’s accreditation process, the department announced on Tuesday.

The session will be held at 6 p.m. on Aug. 5 at Greenville City Hall,…

July 17, 2019

A teen who graduated from Ayden-Grifton High School in June died in a single-vehicle crash on Saturday, the State Highway Patrol reported Monday.

Kareem Melvin Wiggins, 18, was a passenger in the crash that took place about 2:22 p.m. on Brown Hodges Road about 1.6 miles outside of Grifton.


July 16, 2019

A teen who graduated from Ayden-Grifton High School in June died in a single-vehicle crash on Saturday, the State Highway Patrol reported Monday.

Kareem Melvin Wiggins, 18, was a passenger in the crash that took place about 2:22 p.m. on Brown Hodges Road about 1.6 miles outside of Grifton.



July 13, 2019

The Greenville Police Department has made a second arrest in a Thursday shooting death that officials said was a targeted attack.

Cameron Randell Whichard, 28, of 3203 Parkway Court, has been charged with felony accessory after the fact in the killing of 52-year-old Leroy Barnes.

Detectives believe…

July 12, 2019

A vehicle was stolen from outside a home sometime between Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, according to a case report released by the Greenville Police Department. 

The incident took place between 10:30 p.m. July 9 and 10 a.m. July 10 on the 1500 block of Bridle Court. 

A 2016 white…

July 11, 2019

An officer involved in a fatal shooting of a break-in suspect on Tuesday has been on the job for a year and half with the Greenville Police Department and has prior experience as a corrections officer.

The department on Thursday identified David Johnson, 30, as the officer who shot and killed the…

July 11, 2019

A 52-year-old Greenville man was shot and killed early Thursday in the 1700 block of South Pitt Street, the Greenville Police Department reported.  

Leroy Antonio Barnes of Greenville was found shortly after 12:30 a.m. suffering from a gunshot wound in the residential area south of Howell…

July 10, 2019

A handgun and $3,000 in cash were stolen from a vehicle on Heath Street, according to a case report released Monday by the Greenville Police Department.

The incident took place between 1 a.m. July 4 and 10 a.m. July 5 in a parking lot in the 800 block of Heath Street, the report said.

A black 9mm…

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