Hermiston herald. (Hermiston, Or.) 1994-current, June 12, 2019, Page A7, Image 7

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    WEDNESDAY, JUNE 12, 2019
Lights, Camera ... Toxins!?!?
Hermiston HazMat team
performs live drills
Test tubes and danger-
ous spills took center stage
at the Umatilla County Fire
District Training building
Thursday, when the Herm-
iston Hazardous Materials
Response Team ran several
drill scenarios.
For the fi rst time in
about a decade, the National
Guard’s 102nd Civil Sup-
port Team — based in Salem
— were in town to host the
drills and provide training to
Hermiston HazMat.
“Our hazmat team tried
to get drills (with the 102nd
CST) in the past, and it’s
been a logistical issue,” said
Lt. Matt Fisher of the Uma-
tilla County Fire District,
who organized the drills.
“They have a lot of other
The role of the 102nd
CST, according to the Ore-
gon Military Department,
is to detect, analyze and
contain nuclear, biologi-
cal and chemical incidents
in the state. Each responder
must undergo 800 hours of
Of the 13 HazMat teams
that make up the Regional
Hazardous Materials Emer-
gency Response Teams
(RHMERT) in Oregon,
Hermiston’s addresses emer-
gencies all across northeast
Oregon. If the team requires
extra help or more specifi ed
technology, the 102nd CST
would come from Salem to
“The drills the 102nd
CST put on are second to
none,” Fisher said. “(They
are) as realistic as we can
come up with.”
Much of the CST’s
work involves respond-
ing to reports of clandestine
labs producing narcotics or
methamphetamine around
Oregon. Their specialized
mobile lab has the ability to
identify a diverse variety of
Staff photos by E.J. Harris
Lt. Matt Fisher, center, demonstrates how to use a HazMat 360 infrared spectroscopy to fi refi ghter Matt Lewis, left, and Lt.
Jeff Armstrong on Thursday while training in Hermiston. The infrared spectroscopy, which uses a laser to determine chemical
compounds, is a valuable tool for fi refi ghters responding to hazardous materials incidents.
Firefi ghters, from left, Matt Lewis, Lt. Jeff Armstrong, Josh
Smith and Jeremy Grazier look over video taken during a
HazMat training exercise Thursday with the Umatilla County
Fire District 1 in Hermiston.
A fi refi ghter shows off a piece of equipment during Thursday’s
hazardous materials, from
drugs to explosives.
Drills like Thursday’s are
important opportunities for
the CST to identify the lim-
itations and specifi c meth-
ods of HazMat teams across
Oregon, according to Tony
Bernabo. This way, when
they respond to a crisis with
another team, they can tai-
The fi rst scenario that the
102nd CST designed for the
team involved a lab that may
have looked like it was man-
ufacturing illicit drugs, but
was actually being used to
manufacture explosives.
HazMat team members
entered the site two at a time,
fi rst to assess the scene, and
then again to bring in the
lor the response to the spe-
cifi c area.
It’s also an opportunity
for the teams like Herm-
iston HazMat to become
acquainted with newer
HazMat technologies. A
robot used to assess scenes
before entry was rolling
around outside before the
drills Thursday morning.
Staff photo by E.J. Harris
equipment needed to ana-
lyze and identify hazardous
Each time a responder
exits the “hot zone” — the
site of the toxic event —
they must leave their anal-
ysis substances aside and
head to the decontamination
zone to be washed accord-
ingly, explained Bernabo.
When the team re-en-
tered the site, they brought
several sensors for radiol-
ogy and gasses, as well as
a device called the HazMa-
tID 360, which looks like a
digital record player, but is
actually an infrared spec-
troscopy system that uses a
laser to analyze and identify
hazardous materials through
a massive archive.
According to Fisher, the
HazmatID 360 can iden-
tify chemical compounds
down to the brand. The dis-
trict hopes to upgrade their
HazMatID 360 to a more
portable recent version at
some point.
The second scenario
involved a power outage
and toxin extractions from
plant matter. The job of a
HazMat team, Fisher said,
is not to clean up the mess
but to identify and contain
the hazardous materials in
order to protect people and
the environment.
Depending on their con-
ditioning, responders can
usually remain in Level A
HazMat suits, which have
oxygen tanks, for up to
an hour and 30 minutes,
according to Capt. Phillip
Troy of the 102nd CST.
The Hermiston respond-
ers all hold other jobs —
from paramedic to fi re-
fi ghter — when they aren’t
responding to the esti-
mated 10 calls that happen
each year across northeast
“We wear many different
hats,” said Fisher.
Although the team still
has large quarterly drills and
bimonthly trainings, Fisher
said this can make schedul-
ing trainings quite tricky.
HazMat team, around 80%
of situations are traffi c-re-
lated, including the most
recent incident out of Stan-
fi eld a few weeks ago when
a truck leaked 5 to 10 gal-
lons of diesel. The other 190
gallons were contained by
the team, which drilled into
the tank and pumped out the
Hermiston’s fi rst family of auto racing
As with so many days on
the track, Bill Kik and his
family were racing against
The family had assem-
bled at the Kik compound
north of Hermiston to take
pictures for this story, but
the dark clouds gather-
ing above the property por-
tended another late spring
The photo shoot averted
disaster and Bill retired to
his house, where he went
over old pictures that helped
tell the story of the neigh-
boring property: the Herm-
iston Raceway.
Charlie and Pat Kik had
kept meticulous scrapbooks
fi lled with photos and news-
paper clippings of the local
racing scene and the devel-
opment of the race track,
and as their son Bill leafed
through their pages, memo-
ries and old names started to
come back to him.
Bill’s passion for rac-
ing was handed down from
his parents, who developed
the Hermiston race track
after watching an auto race
in Pilot Rock and envision-
ing the possibilities by their
property just off of Highway
395, where Bill and his fam-
ily still reside.
The track opened on
April 30, 1967, as The Uma-
tilla Speedway and it quickly
built renown.
Bill said a TV crew from
the Tri-Cities was on hand
when Sheridan Dietz, a
racer from Pendleton, got
into a vicious crash. The col-
lision briefl y appeared in the
opening montage of “ABC’s
Wide World of Sports”
before the program’s switch
to color caused the produc-
ers to cut the footage out of
Contributed photo
Charlie Kik, right, congrat-
ulates racer Ken Hamilton,
left, after Hamilton broke
the track record on Sept. 17,
1967. Also shown is Bill Jones.
Staff photo by E.J. Harris
The Kik Family racers are, from left, Linkin Zamudio, 10, Jose Zamudio, Ray Whitbeck, Neena Kik, Bill Kik, Jose “Pickles” Medina,
14, Justus Zamudio, 13, and Brody Whitbeck, 10.
Contributed photo
Bill Kik drives his Kik-Along sand drag racer in Salt Lake City
circa 1980.
the intro.
Bill added that stunt per-
former Evel Knievel stayed
at the Kiks’ property when
he performed in Eastern
Oregon, and driver Tom
Sneva raced in Hermiston
before going on to win the
Indianapolis 500 in 1983.
But in the early years of
race track, there was one
person audiences never saw
participate in competitions:
Bill Kik.
Although he participated
in obstacle racing, sand
drag racing, and hill climbs,
Bill said his dad wouldn’t
let him race on the track
because he thought it was
too dangerous.
He dropped racing as a
hobby in the 1980s as he and
his wife Bonnie raised their
three daughters — Neena,
Desirae, and Chelsea — and
he worked his day job at
Sanitary Disposal.
But Bill caught the racing
bug in 2010 when he won
a race track raffl e that gar-
nered him a legends car, a
race car with a replica body
shell powered by a motorcy-
cle motor.
“It’s a bad, bad disease,”
he said. “It takes you hook,
line, and sinker.”
Bill not only got him-
self hooked, but spread his
rekindled passion to his
daughters, sons-in-law, and
The track has long since
passed out of the Kiks’ own-
ership and its name has
changed multiple times.
Bill said he helps out at
the Hermiston Speedway
where he can, but he and his
family race at the track about
a dozen times per year.
At 63 years old, Bill is
sometimes asked when he’ll
hang up his fi re suit, but he
has no plans at this point.
“Not ‘til he’s done having
fun,” Bonnie said.
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