DomPrep wants to know your opinion regarding the current state of domestic preparedness and training efforts for defending against hazmat and CBRN events – both accidental and deliberate.
In a 10-year span (2002-2011), there were a total of 162,176 serious accidents related to hazardous materials (hazmat) across the United States – i.e., more than 1,300 incidents per month – according to the Department of Transportation Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA). These incidents resulted in 128 deaths, 2,665 injuries, and more than $688 million in damages. Every state had to respond to – and share the consequences of – at least a portion of these incidents. Therefore, the frequency and scope of hazmat-related incidents predicates the need for more responder training in order to manage such events.
A related threat is the terrorist use of chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear (CBRN) warfare materials. Although CBRN attacks are much less likely to occur than the hazmat incidents reported by PHMSA, federal, state, and local governments must still assess the risk within their jurisdictions and be prepared to respond to the threat.
Whether planning for a hazmat accident or a CBRN attack, one of the most important components of fielding an effective response is obtaining and maintaining trained personnel. Not only do well-trained individuals and teams know how to protect themselves and others from incident hazards, they can also prevent small incidents from developing into catastrophes. Regarding individual and team training, there are many issues that have been very challenging in past budget environments, but even more so today with reduced or nonexistent funding from the federal government.
________________________ Brigadier General Stanley H. Lillie, U.S. Army (Retired), is Owner and Strategic Management Consultant (since 2007) for S.H. Lillie Associates, LLC, a Service Disabled Veteran owned Small Business, providing strategic consulting services to the defense industry. In the U.S. Army, he held various positions: Director of Integration, Headquarters, Department of the Army (2006-2007); Chief of the U.S. Army Chemical Corps and Commandant of the U.S. Army Chemical School (2003-2006); and Commander, U.S. Army Environmental Center. He was also Director of Chemical and Biological Defense Programs at the Office of the Secretary of Defense, where he was the Senior Military advisor for CBRN (chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear) defense programs in the U.S. Department of Defense.