Hazardous Materials Response Teams

The State of Maine receives funding from the US Department of Homeland Security to assist in preparing hazardous materials teams to respond to chemical releases and Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs). With the funding provided, Maine Emergency Management Agency provides response equipment and maintenance allowances so each team can be properly equipped and trained.

The teams in Maine are a mixture of full time departments, volunteer department, and industrial based teams. In each case, individuals who are on a hazardous materials team spend considerable time over and above their normal duties, work and family in receiving training and being prepared.

The State of Maine has a total of 16 funded teams that are divided into two categories: Regional Response Teams (RRTs) and Decontamination Strike Teams (DSTs)

Regional Response Teams

Maine has 8 RRT’s that meet Federal standards under the FEMA typing requirements. RRT’s by the FEMA typing standards are considered to be able to respond to a variety of releases in an effort to mitigate the release. Initial training for individual members of a RRT will include a technician level training program that involves 120 to 150 hours of classroom and field training. Beyond this will be training in NIMS, specialized equipment and local response plans. All told it is not unusual to have a team member receive 250 or more hours of training in their first year.

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Decontamination Strike Teams

DSTs will respond to a release to support the RRT and to decontaminate those who have been exposed to released materials. Although FEMA does not type DSTs, Maine does have them train to the NFPA 472 standard for operations level training.. Initial training for individual members will include an operations level training program that involves about 30 hours of training both in the classroom and the field. Beyond this will be training in NIMS, specialized equipment and decontamination methods. All told it is not unusual to have a team member receive 100 or more hours of training in their first year.

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References and Resources

CHEMTREC serves as a round-the-clock resource for obtaining immediate critical response information for incidents involving hazardous materials and dangerous goods.

Maine Department of Labor: Safety Works!
SafetyWorks! can help you prevent work-related injuries, illnesses, and deaths and reduce related costs. Services are free and confidential; SafetyWorks does not issue fines or citations.

NFPA: Hazmat/WMD Response Standard
rom the National Fire Protection Association, Standard for competence of responders to hazardous materials and weapons of mass destruction (WMD) incidents.

US CDC/ATSDR: Managing Hazardous Materials Incidents
The MHMI series is a three volume set (with a video) comprised of recommendations for on-scene (prehospital), and hospital medical management of patients exposed during a hazardous materials incident.

US CDC/The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)
NIOSH provides a wide variety of resources to prevent workplace illnesses and injuries

US Department of Labor: OSHA Regulation 1910.120
This OSHA regulation covers hazardous waste operations and emergency response.

US DOT: Emergency Response Guidebook
US DOT/PHMSA's Emergency Response Guidebook provides first responders with a go-to manual to help deal with hazmat accidents during the critical first 30 minutes.

US DOT: Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration
The mission of PMHMSA is to protect people and the environment from the risks of hazardous materials transportation.

US EPA: Emergency Response Program
EPA responds to oil spills, chemical, biological, radiological releases, and large-scale national emergencies, and provides additional response assistance when state and local first responder capabilities have been exhausted or when additional support is requested.

US EPA: National Response Center
The National Response Center (NRC) is the federal government's national communications center, which is staffed 24 hours a day by U.S. Coast Guard officers and marine science technicians.

WISER: Wireless Information System for Emergency Responders
WISER is a system designed to assist emergency responders in hazardous material incidents. WISER provides a wide range of information on hazardous substances, including substance identification support, physical characteristics, human health information, and containment and suppression advice.

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