OPCW, Belarus hold first responder training

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and the government of Belarus recently organized training for Russian-speaking first responders for incidents involving chemical weapons or toxic industrial chemicals.

The second international training session was held on June 16-20 at the Institute for Retraining and Professional Development in Svetlaya Roshcha, Belarus. The advanced training was a follow-up to a basic level training that took place in September in Belarus.

Sixteen experts from 10 states parties attended the session, including representatives from Ukraine, Russia, Romania, Lithuania, Georgia, Estonia, Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Belarus and Armenia. The experts on hand were from national emergency response agencies tasked with preventing and mitigating chemical incidents.

The course focused on issues related to assistance and protection against chemical weapons under Article X of the Chemical Weapons Convention. According to Article X, all states parties can facilitate or participate in the exchange of equipment, material, scientific information and technological information related to means of protection against chemical weapons. Each state party may request assistance and protection against the use or threat of use of chemical weapons if weapons have been used against it, riot control agents have been used against it as a method of warfare or if it is threatened by actions prohibited by Article I of the CWC.

The advanced session provided training in the use of protective equipment and in detection, monitoring and decontamination techniques for responding to attacks with chemical warfare agents. The class included field and table-top exercises.