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Class participants go through technical decontamination during Wednesday’s class. The above scenario was performed dry first, though during an actual incident this would be a soap and water decontamination process. | Austin Nelson
Class participants go through technical decontamination during Wednesday’s class. The above scenario was performed dry first, though during an actual incident this would be a soap and water decontamination process. | Austin Nelson

Archived Story

Occupational hazards

Published 11:23am Thursday, April 18, 2013

Dadeville Police officers receive hands-on HAZMAT training

Four Dadeville police officers have been hitting the books and learning through hands-on exercises at the Dadeville Fire Department this week.The officers have been taking part in a 40-hour Hazmat A&O (awareness and operations) class offered by the Alabama Fire College. While this type of training is typically reserved for firefighters, Dadeville Police Department Assistant Chief Chris Martin said that the fire college made an exception.

“The fire college used to not let individuals that were not firefighters take this course,” Martin said. “They have been a great help. They have gone in and said we recognize the fact law enforcement officers are some of the first on the scene.”

Martin said that the class will give police officers the tools they need to begin responding to incidents, should they arrive on the scene first.

“It teaches them to recognize the different types of containers you see going down the road,” Martin said. “It goes through and gives them the basics of hazardous materials, what they are and what to expect at a hazmat spill (based on the material.)”

The class also teaches the officers how to read hazardous material placards, which are required on all vehicles transporting hazardous cargo.

“It teaches them first to recognize the material by the placard,” Martin said. “If they can’t recognize it by the placard, then they learn how to get a general idea of what it is by the type of container it is in.”

Identifying the substance during a hazardous material spill is the first step responders take when they arrive on a scene. Martin said that one of the most important things participants learn is how to use an Emergency Response Guidebook (ERG). After the substance is identified, the ERG helps guide the response.

“(The ERG) tells them what the hazards are for each chemical, what kind of protective equipment that is needed and how far to evacuate – it is like the Hazmat quick-response Bible,” Martin said.

One Dadeville firefighter, two Tallassee Police officers also attended the course.

In addition, National Guard Lt. Derek Dearman and six other members of the 440th Chemical Company out of Clanton were training alongside police and firefighters.

“The National Guard has both a homeland security mission as well as a military mission,” Dearman said. “In conjunction with our homeland security mission, we work hand in hand with police, fire and immediate responders to a big (hazardous materials) situation.”

Dearman said this training allows the National Guard to be able to work more seamlessly with other responders.

“This helps us understand the terminology and the tools they work with because they are a little different,” Dearman said. “Familiarization and understanding of the jargon is essential for successful meshing (with police, firefighters and first responders).”

 

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