CBRN / HazMat Training Blog

How to Create Realistic HazMat First Responder Training Scenarios

Written by Steven Pike on 02 August 2022

The term ‘major incident’ is a broad one and is widely ascribed to any event where there is a loss of life, a serious injury or substantial damage to property or the environment.


How computer game tech can bring a CBRN tabletop exercise to life

Written by Steven Pike on 23 November 2018

A tabletop exercise can offer an easy-to-execute and cost-effective means of simulating an emergency CBRN or HazMat situation in order to test operational response, to exercise your command structure and to improve the functionality of your team.

The less formal and low-stress nature of the training environment however, means there is also the risk of delivering a far from authentic learning experience.


How to ensure authenticity in HazMat safety training for industry

Written by Steven Pike on 17 November 2017

Although not a common occurrence, when a large-scale industrial incident does occur, there is the potential to cause significant damage and disruption to personnel, the general public and the facility.

The storage, transport and manufacture of chemicals brings with it an inherent element of risk. Chemicals can be corrosive or toxic or react explosively, with the potential for considerable impact on human life and the environment, and with many thousands of chemicals in commercial use worldwide, there is the ever present risk of accidental release.

Chemical spills and accidents can happen, on a small and large scale, anywhere chemicals are found - from factories, to oil rigs to tanker trucks, shipping vessels and railway transport - and can occur with surprising frequency.

Just a few recent examples of smaller industrial-related HazMat incidents in the US in 2017 (all of which were successfully contained) have included a mercury spill at the Cincinnati VA Medical Centre due to the movement of an old pipe during construction work; an ammonia leak at a Butterball plant in Jonesboro Arkansas after a power outage; a polyethylene holding tank catching fire at a chemical plant in Gales Ferry, Connecticut; and a chemical scare at Flint Hills Resources in Illinois.

There are clearly defined procedures and working practices in place within industrial facilities to help assess and manage risk, and individual sectors of industry within the US and UK are also subject to their own specific regulations.

The fact remains though that the hazardous nature of the processes involved in the handling or manufacture of chemicals, together with the ever-present potential for human error means it is essential that emergency response teams are equipped with the appropriate knowledge and skills to handle chemical incidents.

The ongoing challenge for HazMat instructors working within an industrial setting (or indeed any environment where there is a HazMat risk) is to devise training scenarios that provide an authentic live-incident experience for their trainees.


How to enhance CBRN training with virtual / table top simulation

Written by Steven Pike on 05 May 2017

A 2014 paper detailing the EU’s approach to the detection and mitigation of CBRN (chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear) risks is unequivocal that there is work to do if we are to maximise protection for the public against the CBRN threat.

The paper begins, “The EU, its Member States and other key partners have undertaken numerous activities to improve the ability to prevent CBRN and explosives incidents and protect citizens, institutions and infrastructure against such incidents.” However, it goes on to say that, “More needs to be done…” and that the EU, “aims to bring about progress in the area of detection of CBRN threats, and put effective measures in place for detecting and mitigating these threats and risks.”


Incident training – traditional vs. simulation based training

Written by Steven Pike on 16 December 2016

As part of their quest to reduce the number of reported industrial incidents, plant operators and official bodies are focussing extensively on regulations and compliance to do everything they can to eliminate the risk of potentially serious incidents occurring. However, if an incident does occur it is crucial for all staff to have the skills and knowledge required to understand and handle the outcome of an accident.  Training is key here and this is where the challenge lies: How can organisations replicate real-world situations, without actually releasing hazardous agents into the environment?


Is the weather a secret weapon of war?

Written by Steven Pike on 20 November 2013

It sounds like the horrifying basis of a Hollywood science fiction film; controlling the weather to use as a powerful weapon of war.  But as a recently released book, Arming Mother Nature: The Birth of Catastrophic Environmentalism makes clear, this was seriously considered not long after the Second World War.