The Center for Domestic Preparedness has added a new operations-level course to its hazardous materials program. Registration is now open for the Hazardous Materials Operations (HAZMAT Ops) course, which is available to responders in any discipline and will be offered for the first time in August.

“This is great training for responders who may be first on the scene of a hazardous materials incident or accident,” said Kent Latimer, the chief of the CDP’s Training Management Branch. “This course provides responders – police officers, firefighters, public works, any responder for that matter – with the skills, knowledge and abilities required to take defensive actions to contain a hazardous materials spill.

“If you’re the first responder on the scene of an accident involving a hazardous material spill, this course will give you the skills to contain that spill from a safe distance, before chemicals have a chance to mix together or before the chemicals spill into a water source.”

The operations-level HAZMAT responders are on the scene to protect people, property and the environment from the effects of the hazardous-material release, Latimer explained. Those initial defensive actions can mitigate serious damage that can save lives and costly damages. Last year, more than 16,000 hazardous materials incidents in the United States caused nearly $98 million in damages, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. Click here to see how many spills each state had in 2015 and how costly each spill was.

The HAZMAT Ops is a five-day course that trains responders to the National Fire Protection Association® (NFPA®) 472: Standard for Competence of Responders to Hazardous Materials/ Weapons of Mass Destruction Incidents. Specifically, students learn to identify hazardous material and the associated response requirements and get hands-on experience to safely don, operate in, and doff personal protective equipment. Responders receive hands-on experience in performing control techniques, such as absorption, damming, diking, diversion, and remote valve shutoff. In addition, students gain knowledge, skills, and hands-on experience for conducting emergency, technical, and mass decontamination for HAZMAT incidents.

The course also includes the unique opportunity for students to practice their skills in the Nation’s only toxic chemical-agent training facility for emergency responders, the Chemical, Ordnance, Biological and Radiological (COBRA) Training Facility.

“This is valuable training for responders from major cities and small towns, alike,” Latimer said. “Any city or town that has a major highway or interstate running through it could become the scene of a hazardous materials accident. Having this training will definitely make a difference in how quickly and effectively they can get a HAZMAT incident under control.”

The first iterations of the HAZMAT Ops course will be offered Aug. 21-27 and Sept. 18-24.

Training at the CDP is fully funded for state, local, tribal and territorial responders. The Department of Homeland Security funds the training, students’ travel, lodging and meals. To learn more about CDP training or to register for training, visit http://cdp.dhs.gov or call 866-213-9553.