Area emergency workers take weeklong course in handling hazardous materials

Published 12:00 am Saturday, July 31, 2004

Another round of area officials received the proper hazardous material training this week.

Natchez firemen, water treatment employees and EMTs took part in a 40-hour course this week to teach them what they need to know in case of an emergency.

The training is funded through federal homeland security money. State Fire Academy instructors are teaching the course at Co-Lin.

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&uot;We are teaching them to put on different level suits and the proper selection of suits,&uot; said David Campbell, associate instructor with the academy. &uot;If there is a rail car chlorine spill and all entities are activated to respond all training will be similar.&uot;

The students spent some time each day in the classroom and time outside in the suits. Before they are certified to be on the hazmat team they will have to pass a test given in Jackson at the Fire Academy.

Team members must show mastery of 20 skills, Campbell said.

Guy Tuccio of the Natchez Fire Department said part of Friday’s training was getting used to the suit.

&uot;It’s like an oven,&uot; he said. &uot;You have low visibility. Right now we are in the learning phase.&uot;

EMTs from Metro Ambulance Service were also participating in the training. Blood pressure, heart rate and body temperature checks were performed on the hazmat team members before they put on the suit and worked outdoors. Tests were run after to compare the effect wearing the suits has.

&uot;The body reacts differently,&uot; said Elizabeth Coleman with Metro. &uot;Your blood pressure goes up, your pulse and body temperature go up. We would work to stabilize them and get them to a hospital as soon as possible, if needed. &uot;This helps us understand what they go through.&uot;

Earlier hazmat training sessions have been held for law enforcement personnel and civil defense workers. The hazmat team will serve Adams, Wilkinson, Amite, Franklin, Jefferson, Pike, Lincoln and Walthall.