Combine a major explosion with thousands of people trying to get as close as possible for a good view and you have the makings of a true emergency nightmare.
But according to city of Washington Emergency Management Coordinator Mark Skornia, preplanning and professional coordination between several agencies made the historic bridge demolition a success for all involved.
“Any problems were very minimal,” Skornia said. “The only issues we had were police related and those were just people trying to sneak in to get a closer view.”
Skornia added from an emergency services standpoint, the event went very well with no injuries or any incidents considering the potential for disaster involved with blowing up a bridge and the public wanting to be a part of it.
Plus, this was the first time something like this has ever happened in town and many of the first responders have never dealt with an event like this before, or may never again.
“The preplanning helped this go so smoothly,” Skornia said. “Plus, the coordination of Marschel Wrecking, law enforcement, fire, EMS, the water patrol, Mercy Hospital, MoDOT and everyone else involved. This was a good example of using the incident command system successfully. Everyone was great to work with.”
Other than a few stray onlookers, the only real issues on Thursday were the traffic issues due to major road closures before, during and after the implosion, which took less than a second to drop the bridge.
“It was sort of like the Fourth of July,” Skornia said. “The fireworks were over and everybody tried to leave at the same time. The wrecking company had the new bridge open in less than an hour and the initial traffic subsided. That was really the worst of it, and it really wasn’t that bad.”
One other issue that arose, was the slowing of cellular service in the Washington area due to the heavy influx of users texting bridge demo photos and videos, or uploading them to social media.