Southwest College paramedic students receive CBRNE incident training through FEMA

Southwest College in San Diego recently enrolled 24 students in the Federal Emergency Management Agency's Center for Domestic Preparedness' Technical Emergency Response Training for CBRNE Incidents to prepare paramedic students to respond to CBRNE incidents.

The TERT course is a multi-disciplinary course that cross trains students on multiple facets of CBRNE incident response, including law enforcement, fire service and medical operations. The course is comprised of various classes, available through the CDP, and includes emergency response training on a number of threats, including nerve agents and biological materials.

"This training provides our students a well-rounded exposure to current threats and better prepares us," Loretta Contreras, a college instructor and paramedic for the past 30 years, said. "The course explains what we should be alert to and topics we don't think about on a day-to-day basis."

TERT students are trained at the Chemical, Biological and Radiological Training Facility and are able to work hands-on with toxic substances to recognize them in the field.

"There is training for a biological response and it is hands-on and detailed," Contreras said. "We try to train for this threat as best we can, but here are the experts. All the students have said their eyes are more open and they are more alert after this week. It was excellent training. We're more confident. We're all more solid because of this."

Southwest College has offered TERT training to students for the past six years and 175 students have graduated from the program to date.

"As we train to be paramedics we need to be versatile," Brad Whitman, a paramedic student who attended the TERT course, said. "We never know what we may be called to do-it could be anything. We may experience a mass-casualty incident, bomb explosion or chemical release and we don't have a lot of experience to that type of response. Attending hands-on training like this, not to mention the instructors with overwhelming combined experiences, provides that experience."