Environmental Factor, July 2008, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
Stakeholders Review Draft on Earthquake Responder Training
On July 9 in Oakland/Emeryville, Calif., more than 50 representatives from public health and emergency response agencies and occupational safety and health training organizations met to review a draft NIEHS Worker Education and Training Program (WETP) safety and health training tool for earthquake disaster responders. The program was titled "Safety and Health Awareness for Responders to Earthquakes," and attendees included staff from the NIEHS WETP and the National Clearinghouse for Worker Safety and Health Training.
"It was a very helpful meeting," said Chip Hughes, director WETP. "NIEHS was lauded for filling a critical niche in preparing potential responders. Numerous suggestions for adding to the draft content and developing pre-event training opportunities were voiced by meeting participants. A revised draft of the training tool will be shared with meeting participants and then web posted for use by the broader disaster preparedness community."
Participants from the NIEHS WETP awardee community included the Western Regional Universities Consortium, Center for Construction Research and Training, International Union of Operating Engineers, Laborers-AGC (Associated General Contractors of America) Education and Training Fund, Midwest Consortium, Hazardous Material Training and Research Institute, Inc., International Chemical Workers Union and OAI, Inc. Other important groups such the East Bay Municipal Utility District, California Department of Public Health, California Division of Environmental and Occupational Disease Control and California Seismic Safety Commission also provided excellent comments and suggestions for changes to the training tool.
WETP has previously developed similar training tools in response to hurricanes, wildfires, radiological dispersion devices (dirty bombs), avian flu and floods.
Under the National Response Framework, the NIEHS Worker Education and Training Program may be activated to provide safety and health training and technical assistance to disaster responders. To date, WETP has been activated under the National Response Framework twice: following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and during the California wildfires in 2007. The NIEHS WETP also has a long history of involvement in disaster response activities, including the Oklahoma City bombing, the World Trade Center attacks and the anthrax attacks, among others.
The Western Region Universities Consortium, based at the UCLA Labor Occupational Safety and Health Program, includes Arizona State University, University of California at Berkeley Labor Occupational Health Program, University of California Davis Extension and University of Washington/Northwest Center for Occupational Health and Safety.