GAMA and CAER hold first-ever Mutual Aid Day

Lisa Yates @Lisa_editor

The first ever GAMA / CAER Mutal Aid Day took place, Nov. 7, at Lamar-Dixon. Along with exhibit booths, dozens of emergency response vehicles were on display both inside and outside the Expo Hall.

Gary Paline of Watson manned an exhibit booth at the event for his company, Syngenta, a crop protection company in Iberville Parish.

"We're a member of GAMA," he said. "We're here to help our neighbors with equipment, if needed," he said.

He said his company has two fire trucks and an ambulance – resources which the voluntary cooperative of member companies can request for aid during an emergency.

GAMA, which stands for "Geismar Area Mutual Aid," is a voluntary organization of area industry.

Jason Fuselier, with Williams Chemicals, is chairman of GAMA.

"The quality of emergency response resources is second to none in the country and how closely industry works with Ascension Parish government and vice versa," he said.

He said any member of the group may elect to volunteer assistance to another member during emergencies, without jeopardizing emergency response at their own facility.

Fuselier said the Mutual Aid Day event was a success.

"I'm pleased with the turn out," he said. "We said if this first event was successful, it would be the first of many to come."

CAER, which stands for "Community Awareness Emergency Response," is another voluntary organization with member companies offering to provide and receive emergency mutual aid assistance.

Charles Stokes, with Shell Chemical Geismar, is chairman of CAER.

"This is the first event of its kind," he said. "We're trying to get the public more involved."

He said many people in the parish don't understand why there's a siren that goes off every Monday at noon.

"That's a test," he said. "If there is an emergency, we'd let you know through a loud speaker."

Stokes said the organization is made up of 17 member industrial plants in Ascension Parish. He said the booths and the equipment on display at the event is just a sample of the resources available in the community.

"This is just the tip of the iceberg," he said.

St. Amant Fire Chief James LeBlanc coordinated the first ever GAMA / CAER Mutal Aid Day as its exhibit chairman.

"The event showcases industrial and parish emergency response teams," he said. "It lets the community fire departments meet up with the industrial world to see what equipment is available. This is the first time we've ever done it."

He said some of the companies and organizations participating included:

  • Ascension Parish Sheriff's Office – boat, haz mat truck, robot, etc.
  • St. Amant Fire Dept. – pumper, service and expedition
  • Gonzales Fire Dept. – USAR trailer and equipment trailer
  • Rubicon – exhibit booth, haz mat van, portable monitor trailer
  • Honeywell Geismar – exhibit booth, site ambulance
  • Oxy Chem – exhibit booth, site ambulance
  • SWERV Trailer – Matt Moreland NWS New Orleans
  • Rick Webre (Ascension OEP) – 02 trailer, mass casualty bus and new cooking trailer
  • Enterprise Pipeline – exhibit booth
  • Syngenta – exhibit booth, fire truck
  • BASF – exhibit booth, ladder truck
  • CF Industries – exhibit booth
  • PCS Nitrogen – exhibit booth
  • IMTT Geismar – exhibit booth
  • Westlake Chemicals – exhibit booth
  • Olin Chemicals – exhibit booth
  • Southland Fire – four haz-mat apparatus
  • Prairieville Fire – ladder truck
  • 5th Ward Fire – pumper
  • Galvez-Lake Fire – rescue truck
  • 7th District Fire – rescue truck
  • Shell Chemical Geismar – engine and exhibit booth
  • Williams Chemicals – exhibit booth

Ascension Parish Sheriff Jeff Wiley gave the keynote address during a luncheon at the event. For a video of Sheriff Wiley discussing his department's rescue boat, visit www.weeklycitizen.com.