Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Hazmat Training

The folks over at have a brief piece on their emergency responder page reminding people about the free hazmat response training made available through TRANSCAER. They also provide a link to the Spring-Summer 2010 issue of the TRANSCAER newsletter. TRANSCAER is a training organization supported by national railroad and truck associations in concert with organizations supporting hazmat producers and distributors. It provides high-quality hands-on training for first responders in how to respond to transportation incidents where there is a release of hazardous materials. The newsletter describes a new program TRANSCAER is planning on providing for anhydrous ammonia transportation incidents. The 2011 Anhydrous Ammonia TRANSCAER Training Tour is scheduled to start next February. The target audience for tour events includes emergency responders, agricultural businesses, emergency management officials, public safety representatives, law enforcement agencies, consultants, etc. High-risk chemical facilities handling anhydrous ammonia need to consider working with their local responders to get local access to this training.


Fred Millar said...

Over many years of observations and conversations with participants, I've concluded that TRANSCAER is essentially a well-honed and el cheapo (so cost-effective!) PR program of false reassurance for the industry.

1. It reaches a tiny number of the 2 million or so firefighters [80 percent volunteers] and other emergency responders in the nation. It would have to be a federally funded program with standards, and testing for effectiveness, if it were to take seriously the real need for community ER capabilities. (See the Army's well-funded and tested nerve gas community program, CSEPP)
2. The next-day, naive local media coverage invariably quotes naive TRANSCAER exercise participants (having been photographed, by news photographer, looking at valves while dramatically perched on top of TIH tank car) as saying: "Now we feel so much better prepared." Really? For a thimbleful release of chlorine, perhaps, but not for (see CI's Pamphlet 74's full-scale chlorine release of a cloud that could reach 15 miles long by 4 miles wide. How good are the hazmat team's tennis shoes?
3. I asked the guru and main organizer of TRANSCAER last year: Do you ever teach your participants from Pamphlet 74? Answer: "Well, no."
4. Industry folks show up in local communities as the relatively well-informed "experts", compared to the admittedly ill-trained emergency responders, reinforcing for later use their dominance and ability, e.g., to low-ball evacuation recommendations at a real incident.
5. Emergency responders now feel part of the in-crowd -- they went to the elite school inside the railcars, almost like John D Rockefeller! -- and more likely to buy into the gentlemen's agreement that the public really should not be alarmed by actually implementing our Right to Know laws and vividly informing them of easily-grasped TIH railcar release risks.
6. So the at-risk public remains in the dark, only tragically with an added layer of false reassurance of "manageable" risk.

PJCoyle said...

For my response to Fred’s comments see:

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