Hazardous Materials Emergency Response

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Overturned semi-trucks

Overturned semi-truck often require a response from our team

Program Information 

Hazardous materials incidents that require emergency response include industrial and residential chemical spills, fuel spills resulting from vehicle accidents, chemical leaks due to natural disasters such as earthquakes and floods, terrorist acts, bomb threats, abandoned waste, illegal drug labs, and radiological releases.  

The Yolo County Environmental Health HazMat Unit responds to these incidents along with, local fire and law enforcement agencies. The level of response is dependent on the size and nature of the incident and the level of threat to public health and the environment.

The Yolo County Environmental Health HazMat Unit also handles all after-hours calls and complaints for the health department including: sewage spills, food-borne illness complaints, abandoned waste, animal bite reports, housing complaints, and communicable disease reports. HazMat Unit staff work closely with other health department staff in handling matters after hours.

 Yolo County Multi-Agency Emergency Response Team

Most incidents are small, often resulting from leaks or spills from vehicles and are handled by the local Fire Agency and/or the Environmental Health HazMat Unit. If the incident requires additional resources, the Yolo County Multi-Agency HazMat Response Team is activated. This team combines the resources of the Yolo County Environmental Health Division, the Cities of Woodland, Davis, and West Sacramento Fire Departments, and UC Davis Fire Department.

  • The "multi-agency team" approach to hazardous materials spills is very successful. The cost of training and equipping an emergency response team is very high. By using the multi-agency team approach the cost is shared among the participating jurisdictions making it possible for a countywide team to be maintained. Each member of the team has pre-defined roles for which they train and equip their units.

Environmental Health Emergency Response Team

This spill will require additional clean-up activities, which will be overseen by the Yolo County Environmental Health Emergency Response Team

  • During an incident, Environmental Health HazMat Unit personnel fulfill the role of Technical Reference. The Multi-agency Hazmat Team relies on us to provide information critical to managing the incident, including the dangers and hazards of the materials involved, the proper decontamination measures to use, and the type of protective equipment to wear. Staff may also be called on to assist with the identification of unknown substances (usually through a process known as “HazCat”) and to provide and interpret environmental monitoring at the scene.

  • After the Multi-Agency Team controls the incident, eliminating the immediate threat of public exposure to biological, chemical or nuclear agents, fire or explosion, all the members of the team except the Environmental Health HazMat Unit are released for other duties. Environmental Health staff remain to oversee the environmental investigation, to monitor the cleanup, and to initiate enforcement if appropriate. This investigation and cleanup is the responsibility of the business or the party that owns, caused or allowed the incident to occur. When cleanup is completed to accepted standards, Environmental Health staff declare the scene safe.


Members of the Emergency Response Team
Members of the Emergency Response Team participates in training activities while wearing Level A suits, the most chemical resistant protective wear available.

All staff of the Yolo County Environmental Health HazMat Unit undergo over 200 hours of specialized training in emergency response, chemical identification, and the incident command system. They are trained in decontamination, air monitoring, and technical reference support on top of training in topics such as explosives, railcar and tanker truck safety, radiation, and weapons of mass destruction. HazMat staff are certified by the California Specialized Training Institute (CSTI) as Hazardous Materials Technicians. Most staff then continue their training and education, and may receive additional certifications as Hazardous Materials Specialists or Assistant Safety Officers.

In addition to attending regular training courses, staff also participate in periodic drills with the rest of the Multi-Agency HazMat Team to practice the skills that they have learned.



Environmental Health Emergency Response vehicle 


The Yolo County Environmental Health Emergency Response vehicle

The Yolo County Emergency Response vehicle is equipped with a number of highly technical instruments including (but certainly not limited to) radiation detectors, air monitoring equipment, combustible gas indicators, chemical agent detectors, and a trusty HazCat kit (a mini laboratory in a box that can be used to identify unknown solids and liquids) that are used to detect and measure a variety of hazardous materials.

  • Along with the monitoring equipment, a variety of personal protective equipment (suits, boots, and gloves), self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA’s), materials including absorbents, plugs, and dikes that can be used to contain minor spills and/or leaks, and numerous technical references, both printed and electronic, are all stocked on the Yolo County Environmental Health Emergency Response vehicle.


The Yolo County Environmental Health Hazmat Response Team has been recognized with awards for their exceptional performance by:
        • The United States Postal Service
        • California State Senate
        • California State Assembly
        • Yolo County Red Cross
        • Yolo County

Contact Us

Yolo County Hazardous Materials Unit

292 West Beamer Street
Woodland, CA 95695

Office Hours:
8am-12pm & 1pm-4pm

Phone: (530) 666-8646
Fax: (530) 669-1448

Environmental Health