When a chemical incident in India killed and injured thousands of people in 1985, there was concern as to whether that same kind of incident could happen here in the U.S. In answer to rising attention, President Ronald Reagan signed the Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act into law on October 16, 1986. Title III of that Act is known as the Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act (EPCRA)
One of the first actions of the Act was for each Governor to appoint a State Emergency Response Commission (SERC). This commission divided the state into Local Emergency Planning Districts (LEPD's) and appointed members of each county within the districts to join the Local Emergency Planning Committees (LEPC).
Members of the St. Clair County LEPC coordinated and drafted a HAZMAT plan for the community, but within a few years realized that simply having a plan was not enough. They decided that the plan should be active, and should have a team of experts behind it.
A number of leaders stepped up to the table to initiate action on this issue. Local governments, concerned citizens, labor organizations, industry professionals, fire departments, and Cencom coordinated their efforts, and in 1997, St. Clair Special Emergency Services Association was founded. Fully operational in 1999, SCSESA was primarily a HAZMAT emergency rescue squad.
In light of the events of September 11, however, the demand for a specialized group of emergency responders grew significantly. SCSESA soon realized that their capabilities now needed to go above and beyond chemical emergencies. SCSESA expanded into a technical rescue squad with expertise in hazardous material response, chemical and biological terrorism response, radiation/radiological response, and trench, confined space, high angle, and structural collapse rescue.
In order for SCSESA to maintain the proper equipment and training needed for these services to be available to the community, more money is needed. As a not-for-profit organization, SCSESA relies on contributions from the public and private sector to complete their mission. Your tax-deductible monetary support is always needed for this unique and important association. If more funding becomes available, SCSESA hopes to implement ground search and water rescue into their capabilities as well.