Perspectives on 2005 and Beyond
Vol. 21 No. 1
As I write this article most of you will have undoubtedly reflected on the tumultuous year of 2005. Internationally it was a very difficult year in terms of emergency response. Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Wilma pushed our domestic response capabilities to the limit. Notwithstanding hurricanes, many industries including the oil and gas industries suffered some devastating losses, including some large scale fires. Across the pond in Hertfordshire, England a large scale fire, on December 11, 2005 is believed to be the worst explosion at a petrochemical plant in the UK since the Flixborough disaster of 1974. Hertfordshire's Chief Fire Officer Roy Wilsher said: "This is possibly the largest incident of its kind in peacetime Europe."
Despite these adversities, emergency responders in the Industrial setting have performed with distinction. Nevertheless, at this juncture, it is a good time to reflect on the training implications for your industry in 2006. Amongst, the many things we have learned from the Hurricanes, (and I am going to generalize here) is that there are still some shortcomings in the areas of Command, Communication, and Emergency Response Planning. When evaluating your training needs for 2006, plan if you haven't already to train in the areas of Command and Communication. As an instructor at UNR and as consultant, I have noticed that many organizations are still "fuzzy" or unclear when it comes to the Incident Command System and the overall picture in terms of their role in NIMS. In most training scenarios I run, Fire and Rescue Brigade members perform with excellence in their ability to execute tactics of fire extinguishment and rescue. In terms of communication and command, I continue to see areas requiring improvement, even amongst the best trained emergency response teams. This is an area that requires continual practice and training to do well. It is simply not sufficient to send emergency response teams to annual fire school and expect them to be proficient in their roles as Incident Commanders, Sector Chiefs etc. without continuous training and drills to hone their skills. Here are some suggestions then as a recap for training considerations in 2006.
? Design training evolutions to assess your ERT's performance under the Incident Command System.
? Design training evolutions to practice communications failures, and your ERT's ability to perform simulated responses to emergencies with limited to no-communication.
? Review your organization's emergency response plans. Are they realistic? Do they consider an All-Hazards Approach?
In our next article on training we will discuss accreditation and NFPA 1081. Is your training ready for the next level?
Until next time, remember work SMARTER not HARDER!
Comments? Questions? Is there an Industrial Fire Training topic you would like to see covered in this column? Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Attila Hertelendy is an instructor with the University of Nevada, Reno - Fire Science Academy and President and CEO of Great White Emergency Medical Solutions, Inc. a training and emergency response planning company. Come visit us at the IFW Conference at booths 413 and 414.