El Salvador hosts course for first responders to chemical incidents

El Salvador hosted a basic course for first-responders to chemical warfare agents and toxic industrial chemicals from June 10 to 14 at the System for Central American Integration Secretariat in San Salvador.

Seventeen participants from seven States Parties attended the course, including members from El Salvador, Belize, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama. This was the second course to take place in the region; the first took place in 2012 in Honduras and was organized with the goal of being a long-term project.

The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, the Chemical Weapons Convention National Authority of El Salvador and the Sistema de la IntegraciĆ³n Centroamericana jointly organized the course in 2013 as part of a long-term project to develop capabilities in Central America to protect against chemical weapons and TICs. The idea is to create a response team in the sub-region of Central America that could readily respond to a chemical threat.

Participants learned the basic knowledge of chemical warfare agents and TICs, detection equipment, personal protective and decontamination equipment. Instructors taught emergency response procedures and hands-on exercises were done. The course encouraged regional cooperation and the exchange of information regarding the implementation of Article X of the Chemical Weapons Convention across the region.