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W.Va. Guard experts train first responders in PPE safety

By Edwin Wriston | West Virginia National Guard | March 18, 2020

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The West Virginia National Guard (WVNG) trained more than 50 first responders from Kentucky and West Virginia how to use personal protective equipment (PPE) March 16.

Members of the Guard's Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and Explosive (CBRNE) Battalion, the 35th Civil Support Team (CST), and the 35th Enhanced Response Force Package (CERFP), helped prepare local public safety agencies how to minimize cross-contamination through proper wear of, "donning" and "doffing" of PPE.

The training at the Tri-State Fire Academy in Huntington was part of a coordinated state public health effort to mitigate the coronavirus pandemic. It was initiated by Gov. Jim Justice and led by the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (WVDHHR).

"Today's primary focus is to create knowledge on PPE, to talk about the right equipment to wear, and how to utilize best practices to focus on good decontamination techniques that first responders can use to mitigate potential cross-contamination while keeping themselves and citizens safe," said WVNG Capt. John Ivester, CERFP, individual training branch, branch chief.

"While COVID-19 is the hot-topic of the moment, this training is good for any type of disease, chemical agent or biological agent," he said. "The training is all-hazards and helps first responders better work either independently or as part of a multi-agency interoperable response effort to reduce or stop the spread of any disease or secondary agents."

First responders were trained in basic and advanced PPE that will be required to treat patients with COVID-19 or other infectious diseases safely. WVNG instructors discussed general safety precautions, equipment and techniques fire, police, and EMS agencies can use to protect against biological agents.

Proper acceptance, isolation, and decontamination techniques for EMS apparatus were also demonstrated to protect first responders and their patients during transport to and from medical facilities.

The WVNG is providing additional training around the state for first responder agencies and government organizations.

CST and CERFP teams respond to domestic emergencies as part of the National Guard's role to protect the homeland. The WVNG CBRNE Battalion is the National Guard Bureau's lead for CBRNE training across the nation's 50 states, three territories and the District of Columbia.