Hazardous Materials Response
David Pease, Advanced Rescue Technology Magazine
It is now time to move to the next stage of training which is having your team work in full hazmat suits. Again, have them perform some basic extrication procedures while wearing the suits. See how they perform and monitor them closely. Remember, this is only training, so this is where we make our mistakes and fine-tune our skills. Once they have mastered the basics you can have them move on to the more difficult tasks. Give them specific tasks with specific problems. Spend time critiquing mistakes and working through them. This may take several trips to the salvage yard and some additional classes, but it will be well worth it.
The final test is to schedule a simulated extrication with hazardous materials involved and get the other responding agencies involved. Set up a meeting with the agencies in your area that would respond to an incident like this and plan the training exercise. You want to discuss everyone’s role in the exercise and how it should play out. You may also want to contact your local media and press and get some good PR for the agencies involved. This not only looks good to the public but also reflects well on your department. Once the plan has come together it is time to find a good location and get things scheduled. You may want to get the local school drama class involved to furnish you with some patients. These kids are usually eager to help and do an excellent job at being patients. The last thing you might want to do is to approach your surrounding county and see if one of the neighboring departments will supply you with several experienced members or officers to evaluate the training exercise. Most would be quite willing to help you out, but if they will not, give me a call.
I think we find that these types of extrications test our ICS system, as well as the responding agencies involved. Most departments do not train for these types of extrications. Although most have training in hazardous materials response and extrication, they usually do not put the two together. The training ground is the place to perfect our skills and correct our mistakes. Take the time to train your personnel so when the incident goes down in your district you will be ready to handle the extrication with expertise and most important, safely.