Article Archive
Training Must Deal With Reality
Volume 23, No.2

Training is an essential integral part of any successful emergency response organization. The pace of innovation accelerates, the need for training appropriate to the needs of the trainees and relative to the work environment constantly becomes more acute.

What constitutes good training? Good training is relevant to the existing work environment and appropriate to the audience to which it is being offered.

We have used the terms "appropriate" and "relative" so often that they have almost become clich?s.What do they really mean? Spending an entire training session talking to Bahaman team about how to use pH paper when these fellows have several years experience with these items, and routinely use pH meters anyway, might be deemed to be inappropriate. To be of any benefit to the trainees training must deal with the real world of here and now.

In this context the industrial sector has a number of advantages over the municipal sector. An industrial fire chief should, know with a reasonable degree of certainty what is in his establishment and thus train his personnel to deal with it. The list of materials within a plant may be rather short, but the relatively few items that are present tend to exist in rather large quantities.

As changes in processes and equipment occur within a given plant, training must be delivered to the emergency responders to enable them to deal with whatever new types of incidents the new technology might engender. Industrial responders work daily with the materials in question? as part of their regular jobs. Thus a worker in a sulfuric acid plant should be familiar with the properties of this chemical even before he encounters it asana emergency responder.??????

The industrial Fire Chief works within a closed environment, anything that comes in or out of his installation passes (or should pass) through plant security. Plant security system can track every vehicle, person or cargo that comes into the plant from the outside. It can also intercept any prohibited or suspicious item that might otherwise be carried into the installation as well as interdict any effort to purloin materials that could be used for some clandestine nefarious purpose.

While an industrial Fire Chief normally does not have a large civil population to contend with, disaster within his plant may well affect the civilian populace in neighboring communities. Having a good working relationship with his civilian counterparts mandatory.

The scope of the task facing the industrial fire chief may be narrow, but its not necessarily easier.The Sand hills Trimmest Plant, owned by the Backwater Chemical Company may be the only plant in the region that makes this material. They have the only emergency response team that is trained and equipped to deal with it who have to be able to respond all over the country to incidents involving their product. They will be expected to know all there is to know about it. Their training may be somewhat narrow in scope but it had better be very deep indeed and it must be both "appropriate" and "relative".???????

In the aftermath of the events of 9/11 the major focus of emergency response became "terrorism."?? However, reality must eventually raise its head. All too often we get carried away with the idea that a terrorist attack is something unique; it ism't. 9/11, horrendous as it was, in reality was nothing more than a building collapse of titanic proportions. The New York Fire Department responded to the alarm in exactly the same way and handled the incident precisely as they would have handled a building collapse caused by an internal explosion. The mission of the emergency responders was to rescue those trapped inside, secure the sites, aid the injured, save as many lives as they could and to prevent further damage to the community if possible, a job which the emergency response organizations did very well.

No successful major terrorist attacks against industrial installations in the US have occurred. That does not guarantee that there will not any such attacks in the future. Therefore we do need to be prepared. In doing so we should keep in mind that an incident in which a carload of sulfuric acid is derailed by some terrorist to spill its contents would be handled the same way that we would handle one that jumped the track because of a failed journal bearing.???

Terrorist usually plans attacks around materials and resources that are already on the ground to engage a target that is already present. This was the case with 9/11; the airliners were already at the airports and the fuel was already loaded on them. All the terrorists had to do was to get on board and then, after liftoff, take over the controls of the aircraft.? This approach minimizes the amount of incriminating materials that must be transported into and around the country and to the target and makes ingress and egress to the site easier. It also makes the job of those responsible for emergency response somewhat less complicated. For example, the training firefighters have receive din the handling of incidents involving agricultural ammonium nitrate is equally valid when this material is utilized to wreck a building. This having been said, the question of how to train and be ready for a terrorist attack while at the same time being prepared for the mundane incidents that occur as a result of everyday activities, becomes pertinent.?

Obviously any good training will focus on the risks and exposures present in any given venue. Ago od "first order of business" is to conduct an inventory of potential incident sites and determine what we have that could cause or exacerbate an incident.This could be expanded to include a review of the "tier I" and "tier II"reports that are supposed to be filed annually. It would also be a means of informing or reminding the emergency response personnel about where and how much of what is actually in their jurisdiction. It is a good way to upgrade the records and make sure that some of the more inconspicuous locations are not overlooked. This would include things like the chlorine cylinders stored at the water or wastewater treatment plants, the fuel supplies stored at the motor pool and the agricultural chemicals at the grounds maintenance department.Don't forget the various compressed gasses used and the cylinders of propane used to power forklifts, floor machines and similar equipment in many of the otherwise non-hazardous locations within an industrial complex.

An inventory may reveal some sites that no longer have what the tier I and tier II reports say they have; perhaps there has been a change in the process utilized or a re-location to another part of the plant. I entered an office recently which displayed on the building a large NFPA 703 placard indicating oxidizers and flammables, both with a hazard class of "4." This seemed strange since this establishment was al aw office. Upon inquiry, someone explained that "the sign was there when we moved in and we have just never taken it down." Imagine the reaction of the first alarm response company that rolls up to the building and sees that sign.? While this was not an industrial setting it illustrates the point that little, apparently insignificant items like a forgotten sign can have significant consequences.??

A second source of potential incidents, whether intentional or not are commodities that are in's the onboard fuel tank associated with every truck that enters the plant and the tanks on these trucks can hold as much as four hundred gallons of diesel oil. Not every item on a delivery vehicle is destined for one address.So, when the ABC Cartage Company truck rolls up to the plant gate with properly documented delivery for the plant it will very likely have significant number of different materials on boards. When the gate guard checks the paperwork and waves the truck through he admits not only the order destined for his plant but he has allows entry to every other shipment onboard the delivery truck to the plant, often without any inspection and with absolutely no idea of what he may be admitting.

Once the inventory of possible incidents is completed, arrange the list in order of: A, the likelihood of an occurrence and B, the consequences of such an incident if it did occur. From these two lists one should select the incidents or types of incidents upon which training sessions should be focused. This will require some "judgment" calls; an incident such as a gasoline spill as a result of an auto accident will have a fairly high probably of occurrence, the consequences of which are usually relatively minor. The probability of a tank train loaded with sulfuric acid colliding with a propane tanker at the entrance to the plant during rush hour is rather low but the consequences of such an incident would be extremely serious. The trick is to balance the consequences of an occurrence with the probability of that occurrence happening.

When the incidents have been selected, plan to initiate appropriate training that is as realistic as possible. In addition classroom instruction with regard to the correct response for a particular type of incident, there must be an opportunity for ongoing"hands on" instruction. After all "practice makes perfect".

In designing "hands on"training sessions differentiate between demonstrations and simulations. In demonstrations? a piece of equipment or technique is shown or "demonstrated" to the trainees who then have an opportunity given for each of them to set up and operate the equipment in order to get the actual "feel" of the apparatus. A?demonstration might well be the use of high expansion foam to extinguish hydrocarbon fires, before each trainee uses the equipment to extinguish a fire in a practice tank or pit.

On the other hand, simulation gives a group of trainees or "team" an incident to which they are expected to respond. This team will? ha veto make requisite decisions as to the resources and equipment required and the methodology of its deployment. Each team member has a unique job. Those designated as officers will have the task of integrating the individual efforts into a coordinated whole. In such a simulation there will not be one "right'answer. Any operational procedure that mitigates the incident and does it in minimal time frame with the least possible exposure of personnel and equipment to risk and with as little damage to plant assets and the environment as possible is acceptable. If more than one possible solution to the problem is presented during an exercise then each should be evaluated. The methodology utilized to mitigate the incident must be "doable" in the current context. "If you don't have it you can't use it." A 10,000 gallon tank truck might be "just the ticket" to supply water when the water

line has been damaged but if the responding department does not have one available, can one be obtained via mutual aid (assuming that one is available) or will the responders have to workaround the discrepancy? A full scale live simulation is identifies deficiencies in equipment, material, personnel and/or methodology. It's a cheap way to lea rna valuable lesson. Use it.????

All emergency response simulations must include the entire industrial facility. Company Administration and local plant management need to become committed to the idea that an emergency is just that, an emergency, and that the response effort is plant wide and in some cases company wide. Participation in simulations is an excellent way to drive the point home. The utilities department may need to increase the flow of water for fire fighting. In other scenarios they must be available to shut off gas, steam or electricity. Plant Security must secure the site and coordinate with local law enforcement to control admission.? Maintenance may need to provide an air compressor,a backhoe or a bulldozer on short notice. Engineering may be called upon for blueprints. All of these things must be done, as soon as requested. There is no time to waste debating whether or not to allow the fire department to use the Utility Department's new pump. Get the job done now and sort out the paperwork and legal fine points later. After all ac

company money and resources are protecting company assets and ensuring the health and safety of company people .Administration of any industrial complex must initiate and enforce a policy stating that when an emergency is declared the primary objective of each and every department, administrator or employee is the mitigation of that emergency by supporting the response effort in any way possible and every resource must be made immediately available to those responding to the emergency upon request.This policy must designate in no uncertain terms the command structure (ICS)that will go into effect whenever an emergency occurs. Administration must follow the plan as well. When the bell rings and ICS is activated. The"operative term" here is "command." Emergency Response is not a democracy.

Incidents do not happen on schedule and neither should training simulations. The time and date for a simulation should be set kept secret. No matter if the Plant Manager is out of town, the Fire Chief is on vacation or it is cold, raining, windy or? the fuel truck is in the shop for repairs, if the bell goes off it must be answered. If a simulation can be scheduled at time when one or more key personnel are out of town or a piece of essential equipment is out of service this will afford an excellent opportunity to assess the "depth" of the organizational leadership and the ability of the responders to "jury rig" an alternative or work around the missing equipment. This could be important in an actual emergency. "Murphy's Law" has not yet been repealed.iven the realities of the industrial world, provision must also be made for emergency response to incidents which occur during strikes or labor disputes, during plant maintenance shutdowns, on holidays or at other times when the normal plant operating schedule is not in effect.

When planning simulation there are certain other things of a non-response nature that will occur in an emergency that must be dealt with and should be included in the exercise. These will include such things as emotional support for the families of victims who rush to the incident site seeking word of their kinsmen. Food and, especially, water for the response personnel will be needed almost immediately. Relief personnel to replace the initial responders in the event that the incident lasts longer than a normal work shift must be placed on alert status. Mutual aid organizations need to be notified in case of need .Volunteers such as amateur radio operators may be needed to provide communications in remote areas. Shelter and other necessities, such as medical attention, must be made available for any who are displaced by the incident.Many of these services are likely provided for, probably by agencies such as the Red Cross or The Salvation Army, all of which will need to be notified Randall will need to be included

in prior planning. While many activities may be shut down during an emergency certain others cannot be. Ordinary medical service swill have to continue to be available, in addition to the medical needs(simulated) that are the result of the simulated incident. Consequently medical and EMS agencies and personnel need to be included in training exercises and/or simulations.

At this point it becomes obvious that good training is all encompassing, it does not stop with the emergency responders and it transcends the plant boundaries. It is community wide and it cannot be assumed that the emergency response organization will, or even can, take on the whole task. Emergency Response is everybody's job.

In the first decade of the 21st century we have already seen four "omega disasters" 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, the tsunami in the Thailand and the wild-land fires in California. In all instances the "take home" lesson has been that emergency response transcends organizational boundaries. Jurisdictions that have been able to integrate all of their resources into one contiguous whole,for command, supply and training have been the ones that have had the most successful outcomes. The ERT does not have a monopoly on disaster mitigation. There is a part for everyone and everyone needs to be trained to do his part when the balloon goes up. Emergency response training is for everyone, "Welcome Aboard".


P: (979) 690-7559
F: (979) 690-7562

Content & Feeds

Download Magazine
Download Media Kit


Feedback Form
Privacy Policy
Ads & Marketing

IFW Sites

IFW Store
IFW Gallery



Thank you for visiting! Join us in our mission by subscribing to IFW magazine, using our Web accessible resources, becoming an advertiser, or sharing your personal input.