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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Hazmat courses prepare UA for bio-hazards

    If a large tanker truck carrying harmful chemicals spills on Interstate 10 or terrorists spread smallpox throughout campus, the UA will be prepared.

    Next week, the UA will be hosting hazardous materials classes to teach paramedics, nurses and physicians how to deal with hazardous material outbreaks either by terrorist attacks or by accidental chemical spills.

    “”Hazmat emergencies don’t happen every day,”” said Danielle Crounse, coordinator for the Advanced Hazmat Life Support course. “”But we need to be trained for those emergencies.””

    Dr. Frank Walter, a hazmat instructor and coordinator, said hazmat personnel help patients who have come in contact with harmful chemicals and serve as “”guardian angels”” for first response units – such as firefighters and police – who become exposed to the hazardous material.

    Frank Rando, senior faculty with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and a hazmat instructor, teaches medical technicians to help victims of weapons of mass destructions, such as “”dirty bombs”” or chemical warfare (i.e., smallpox and anthrax). The classes also help participants distinguish between a natural outbreak and a terrorist act.

    If a large number of people are suffering from flu-like symptoms during the winters, it’s likely to be the flu, Rando said. However, if the same thing happens during the summer, it should raise a “”red flag”” because a flu outbreak is unlikely at that time of the year.

    Rando said hazmat personnel are first taught to protect themselves before helping the patient.

    “”They must survey the patient as well as their surroundings,”” Rando said.

    Once the hazmat personnel know the surrounding area is safe, the next goal is to help the patient.

    “”They remove the patient from the poison, then remove the poison from the patient,”” Rendo said.

    Identifying the chemical the patient has been exposed to is essential in order to begin a treatment. Patients could come in contact with a number of harmful chemicals such as irritant gases like chlorine, strong acids and bases, pesticides, displacement of oxygen and household solvents, Rando said.

    The most common exposure to a chemical comes from inhaling or swallowing the chemical, but they can also be absorbed through the skin, Rando said.

    Since 1999, more than 7,000 medical technicians have been trained in hazmat classes around the world, Crounse said.

    “”It’s a worldwide effort to care for people,”” Walter said.

    The UA hosts two of the 60 classes held each year, and each class contains an average of 30 medical technicians. Half of the medical technicians attending are paramedics, 30 percent are physicians and 20 percent are nurses.

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