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Ben GodarSeveral volunteers experienced the same mass...

Ben Godar

Several volunteers experienced the same mass decontamination

procedure Tuesday that firefighters would use in the event of a

chemical or biological terrorist attack.

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As a pair of Burbank Fire engines sprayed a heavy mist toward one

another, mock victims stripped down to swimming trunks walked through

the “decontamination corridor” while spinning. From there, they were

met by HazMat crews in green protective suits who covered the victims

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in a plastic sack and hurried them off to a designated triage area.

The demonstration was intended to showcase techniques being taught

to firefighters statewide as part of the Terrorism Consequence

Management Program.

The program, sponsored by the California Fire Fighter Joint

Apprenticeship Committee, is designed to train a handful of people

from every fire department in the state. Those who receive the

training will eventually train their fellow firefighters.

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Twelve Burbank firefighters have already undergone training, and

the rest of the department will begin training next month, Battalion

Chief Mario Gagnon said. He added that such training programs are a

good way to educate firefighters without having to pay overtime

costs.

“We’ve done the “train the trainer” programs before, but never to

this magnitude,” Gagnon said.

The techniques demonstrated Tuesday are among the most effective

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way for firefighters to remove any chemical or biological agent from

a person’s body in the moments following an attack, fire officials

said.

The program focuses on how firefighters can use the resources they

have on a daily basis to respond in the first 20 minutes to a weapons

of mass destruction attack. Fire Chief Mike Davis said the techniques

are relatively new to the fire service.

“Since 9-11, we’ve seen a whole new type of threat emerge that we

have to deal with,” he said.

Given budget cuts to almost all departments, Davis programs like

the one showcased Tuesday are even more valuable.

“It’s a great way to fund training we would not be able to fund

through our local budget,” he said.


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