The Mesa (Ariz.) Fire/Medical Department recently used HazSim for year-end hazmat drills involving department personnel, as well as Phoenix regional hazmat teams. HazSim is a hazmat-detection simulation system for chemical identification drills that offers up to 1,000-meter range.
After every annual drill, video-taped exercises are reviewed by training leadership, said Mesa Special Operations Capt. Paul Finley. He said they noticed in the recordings from last year that Level A personnel had detectors around their necks or in their pockets and paid little attention to it.
“They never once looked at the meter,” Finley said. “The meters never gave real-time feedback, which is not how it is in a real incident.”
To enhance training at this year’s drill, Mesa and Phoenix-area hazmat teams faced a one-ton Chlorine cylinder with a liquid leak. The personnel assigned to the recon and the decon teams were armed with HazSim training meters. The meter was used during simulated response by a recon team in the boundaries of the hot zone, Finley said. In decon, the meter was used to clear Level A entry team members before removing suits and also as a tool for facilitators to send an entry team member back to the shower for another wash cycle, he said.
Finley leased the system on a three-month basis for $1,000. And while there was a bit of a learning curve and what he said were “small glitches,” those who used HazSim commented that the device made their assignment in the drill more realistic. In addition, it helped chief leadership drive the actions and the drills from a remote location. He said watching the recon and decon team receive readings on the HazSim, process those readings, and adjust their actions based on the HazSim led to “very realistic training.”