Seventy emergency responders from Puerto Rico recently completed two-and-a-half weeks of training at TEEX under the auspices of the Puerto Rico Department of Justice homeland security program. The 35 firefighters and 35 police officers attended training at the Brayton Fire Training Field to become certified in hazardous materials response.
The Puerto Rico Department of Justice officials learned of TEEX through training last year conducted by TEEX’s National Emergency Response and Rescue Training Center.
Lt. Victor Lassalle, State Coordinator of Homeland Security for the Puerto Rico Fire Department, was one of the officials who conducted a site visit to TEEX last fall. “We liked the facilities here. We don’t have any like it, and we thought it would be a great experience for our firefighters,” Lassalle said. “Also, the hazmat course offerings were good, and we knew about the good reputation of the (Texas A&M) University (System).”
The classes were taught in Spanish by bilingual TEEX instructors. “The students from Puerto Rico learned about aspects of hazardous materials response from the awareness level through technician level, including hazmat operations,” said ESTI program coordinator Gordon Lohmeyer, hazardous materials program coordinator with TEEX’s Emergency Services Training Institute.
All of the classes are approved by the National Board on Fire Service Professional Qualifications for ProBoard certification, Lohmeyer added.
The hazmat training at TEEX has been beneficial, Lassalle said, and will assist Puerto Rico in its efforts to enhance its emergency preparedness. He added that another group of emergency responders from Puerto Rico plans to come to TEEX for five weeks of training in search and rescue techniques, which will include training at Disaster City.