Florida first responders attend hazardous materials course

Members of Florida’s Emergency Response Team (ERT) sample hazardous materials while preserving evidence during CDP training. | The Center for Domestic Preparedness

Members of Florida's Emergency Response Team (ERT) participated in a hands-on training seminar at the Center for Domestic Preparedness (CDP) in Anniston, Alabama, recently.

More than 20 ERT members from 12 Florida cities attended the Hazardous Materials Technician for CBRNE Incidents course, which offers reality-based exercises to help prepare first responders for real-life events. The team members included fire experts, law enforcement officers, public health officials and hazardous materials and safety specialists.

“The team’s primary focus is to respond to CBRNE incidents to protect human health and the environment,” Jeff Waters, a specialist for Florida’s Office of Emergency Response, said. “Our ERT specializes in identifying unknown hazards, collecting forensic evidence and mitigating the hazard.”

Over the past 16 years, approximately 18,000 emergency personnel have completed the course.

“The training aided in learning how to identify a biological, chemical or radiological incident,”  Christopher Scovotto, a detective for the Florida Fire Marshal’s office, said “Using the appropriate instruments for testing showed a variety of different capabilities.”

The five-day course places students in realistic scenarios and allows them to work with equipment used to detect radioactive elements. The students are dressed in personal protective equipment and led through dark passages triaging "victims" of a disaster and gathering evidence.

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Center for Domestic Preparedness - FEMA 61 Responder Dr. Anniston, AL 36205

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