TEEX is reaching out to Emergency Medical Services programs at community colleges to offer new Emergency Medical Technicians and paramedics some basic training in operations and planning for weapons of mass destruction (WMD) incidents. The TEEX DHS-grant-funded course “Emergency Medical Services: Operations and Planning for WMD Incidents” is now offered as part of the EMT-paramedic curriculum at Blinn College and Victoria College.
“We feel it is important to introduce students to this training,” said Juan Guerrero, Training Manager for the WMD/EMS program in TEEX’s Emergency Services Training Institute. “In many cases, the curriculum for emergency medical personnel does not include training related to WMD, even though EMS personnel would likely be some of the first on the scene of an incident.
“We have a great working relationship with Blinn College officials, and they recognized the need to integrate this training into their program in April,” Guerrero said. “Their goal is to expand the paramedics’ experience.”
Guerrero pointed out that a 2001 article in the Annals of Emergency Medicine recommended that WMD content be incorporated into EMT training at all levels “to ensure that all emergency health care providers are prepared to effectively responds to WMD events.” But, Guerrero says, few programs have followed the recommendation.
“New EMTs are going into the streets, and they don’t have an idea about what an IED (improvised explosive device) looks like or how to deal with a HazMat spill,” Guerrero said. “It’s a good time to teach them about terrorism awareness, whether they are EMTs, nurses or emergency physicians.” The training has already been incorporated into the paramedic classes that TEEX conducts for the Houston Fire Department, and the response has been positive, he said.
TEEX may soon offer the training at other colleges. “More and more programs are seeing the value of incorporating this training into the curriculum, especially for the brand new paramedics,” Guerrero said. “We’re also looking at ways to expand our training eventually into nursing programs and even offering it to emergency physicians.”