"It is a matter of saving lives," Fire Service Instructor Bryan Husband said. "Firemen need to be able to recognize hazardous materials quickly so we can keep everyone, from the response personnel to the local citizens, safe."
Husband, the director of the Clay County Emergency Management Agency and Lewis Township Volunteer Fire Chief, and his wife Gerri, who works for the U.S. Department of Energy, Homeland Security Districts 1 and 6, taught a HazMat Operations Training course for emergency response personnel on Saturday and Sunday.
"We are working with the command personnel during this class. They will not be directly working with hazardous materials," He said. "They will most likely be in the cold zone."
A HazMat scene is divided into three sections; the cold zone, which is clear of hazardous materials; the warm zone, which contains the slight potential of danger because of the victim decontamination area; and the hot zone, where only technicians are allowed inside to handle the clean-up and removal of dangerous materials present in the form of vapor or liquid.
Personnel from various emergency response departments from seven counties participated in the two-day, 16-hour course that involved classroom work and actual hands-on instruction.
"These people have volunteered two days of their time, without being paid to do it," He said. "They don't do it for glory, they do it because they want to maintain safety for their departments and their communities."
With all the various types of delivery trucks and semis on I-70, having emergency response personnel trained to identify HazMat materials is only common sense, according to Husband.
"People would be really surprised by what type of materials are transported on I-70," He said. "When an accident occurs involving a semi, it can be carrying anything on the interstate, from battery acid to fuel oil."