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Hazmat training improves Andersen's fire, emergency capabilities

  • Published
  • By the 36th Civil Engineer Squadron
  • 36th Civil Engineer Squadron
In an effort improve their understanding of one another's capabilities, Andersen's emergency responders held a weapons of mass destruction response exercise at Fire Station One here Aug. 6.

Members of the 36th Medical Group bioenvironmental flight and the 36th Civil Engineer Squadron emergency management flight participated in the exercise with firefighters from the 36th CES fire and emergency services flight.

"The training provided an excellent opportunity for emergency responders to work together while mitigating a simulated suspicious substance scenario," said Master Sgt. Paul Philips, 36th CES.

He said at the start of the training each agency offered a brief overview about capabilities they bring to the incident. Following the familiarization, the joint training continued with refresher training on the hazardous material suit for all responders.

The day-long training session culminated with an exercise scenario where a "victim" was found on the ground covered with a white powdery substance. Firefighters responded and began setting up for a rescue operation. Since the hazard was unknown, the emergency teams chose to wear the suit with the highest level of protection. The hazmat operations officer worked with the bioenvironmental and the emergency planners to create an incident action plan. Bio representatives evaluated the firefighters who rescued one simulated victim before performing rapid decontamination to ensure all contaminants were removed. During the rescue, more firefighters suited up to standby as the bio and emergency management flight prepared to make entry to identify the substance.

Once the victim was rescued and decontaminated, more emergency responders entered the "hot zone" and used field detection equipment to ensure the area was safe for continued activities. The substance was then analyzed to provide an initial identification.

In this scenario, the substance displayed characteristics of a biological agent. In order to confirm exactly what the powder was, the bioenvironmental engineers collected a sample and prepared it for safe transport to a facility with more advanced identification equipment.

Those who entered the "hot zone" exited through the decontamination line where firefighters ensured all potential contaminants were removed before assisting the responders out of their protective suits.

Sergeant Philips said the participants gave positive comments underscoring the importance of the relationship between each agency that responds to WMD incidents.