Is ALOHA Enough for Emergency Response?
Being active members of the safety community, we hear over and over again “Use the right tool for the job?” This is a mantra in the safety world because we all know that using the wrong tool can be dangerous and, in some cases, fatal. A wrench is not a hammer; a knife is not a screwdriver; a screwdriver is not a chisel. So when it comes to emergency response, why do some organizations continue to choose the wrong tool for the job? In a hazardous chemical release, the right tools bring real-time information to you and your team, helping you respond effectively, efficiently, and accurately.
ALOHA is a hazard modeling software, distributed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which is used for planning how to respond to potential chemical emergencies. It allows the user to manually input details or estimates about a chemical release and in turn provides an estimated threat zone. While tools like ALOHA do have their uses in response planning, it’s important to note that they only use static data for threat zone modeling. The result of course is a static model.
Trained emergency responders know that conditions are dynamic in a chemical emergency. You cannot rely on weather and gas sensor data from ten minutes ago because conditions change constantly. When you rely on static data, you’re basing lifesaving emergency response actions on a brief snapshot of a dynamic event.
Decisions need to be made with confidence because the safety and lives of your community members and the people you work with are at stake. ALOHA is a free download, making it attractive to those looking for solutions to their emergency response needs, but is it really cost free? If the wrong decision is made during an emergency it can end up costing the safety of your staff and your community.
ALOHA Startup Warning:
As demonstrated above, the limitations of ALOHA reveal its inadequacy as a tool for emergency response in the hazardous materials industry.
Emergency responders can’t control the ever-changing environment in a chemical emergency. It only makes sense that they should use response tools that change along with the conditions and take the guesswork out of plume modeling.