Hazmat team trains at Cincinnati State

Local 12 behind the scenes at hazmat training (WKRC)

CINCINNATI (Rich Jaffe) - When police and fire crews respond to hazardous material situations, they have almost no idea what they might be walking into.

That's why training is so important. Local 12 News was invited to take a first hand look at some of that training Friday, Dec. 18, at Cincinnati State. The scenario was frightening; an abandoned building where something had gone terribly wrong.

Surrounded by swirling fake smoke, instructor Melvin Walker explained, "Two young kids came in, got contaminated with something, have a greenish slime on them. Have been rushed to Children's Hospital. Also the local Duke utility man was here to shut the power off. His truck is still in the parking lot but we haven't seen him."

That utility man won't make it out alive and in a few moments it's lights out. Students were local firefighters, UC police, EPA, NIOSH; all pro's in their own fields. In the dark, smokey room they're confronting corrosive's, leaking chemicals, a body and a meth lab. After the first team went in and assessed the situation a second team went in and their job was to remove a huge drum that was allegedly full of a corrosive material. It was leaking so they were going to have to put it into a much larger, secure container and get it out of there.

As soon as each team came out they went through decontamination.

As they were peeling him out of his hazmat suit Mitchell Cordell, a Blue Ash firefighter, told Local 12, "It's difficult because you can't hear, you're sweaty, it's hot inside the suits, difficult because you can't see in that room. Communication's the biggest thing I think. "

The instructors were all highly trained pro's from the army, Cincinnati fire, EPA and more.

Cheryl Brackman from Cincinnati State's workforce development center said, "With everything that's going on today, in today's world, with incidents just happening as recently as a week or two ago, for us to be able to offer it by experts to this area to help people stay safe, I would say it's state of the art. It's excellent."

Brian Canteel started the program 22 years ago. He said the biggest fear now was improvised explosive devices on hazmat scenes.

Canteel said, "We work as a team to constantly improve what we do because this isn't English class. We're providing life safety skills to private sector hazmat teams, municipal fire departments and law enforcement met labs and we have to make sure they're prepared to come home after shift."

Cincinnati state runs the classes five times a year. The team of instructors also do update and refresher classes for organizations like the Cincinnati fire department on a regular basis.

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