Pueblo Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant (PCAPP) training specialist James Jordan Jr. divides his Emergency Response Team into groups and gives them a simple scenario: a 55-gallon drum of an unknown substance falls from the back of a vehicle. Respond.
Such scenarios grab the attention of the student while allowing the trainer to introduce the importance of HAZWOPER (Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response) and scene mitigation. “We identify the primary documents used to find a solution for the problem and discuss regulations that govern HAZWOPER,” said Jordan. “Scenarios also allow us to discuss important chemistry terms like vapor pressure, vapor density, specific gravity and flash point to name a few.”
Students are given the opportunity to determine the equipment needs they will have during a specific emergency. “We discuss and manipulate PCAPP-specific equipment, including respiratory protection, chemical protective suits, boots, gloves, overpack drums, plug/patch kits and decontamination equipment,” Jordan explained. Students practice overpacking a 55 gallon drum, plugging/patching, and donning and doffing Personal Protective Equipment.
“We try to keep the course as hands-on as possible,” Jordan continued. “Our goal is to influence the many different types of learners that may be in our class, be they, audio, visual or kinesthetic learners.”
Emergency Response Team training consists of HAZMAT (hazardous materials) response, decontamination and rope rescue. Each member of the team goes through 40 hours of training for HAZMAT and decontamination. Some members of the team take an additional 50 hours of training for rope rescue training. Each month, each member of the Emergency Response Team will have two to four hours of refresher or continuing education to keep skills sharp and the team ready to respond. The course consists of equal parts classroom and practical exercises.
“Our students are inundated with information and some are overwhelmed initially, but they all leave class with a better understanding of potential hazards and the equipment and resources available to them in order to respond,” Jordan reported. “They learn how they can be used to save lives, property and the environment.”