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Your Environment. Your Health.

NIEHS Teams with Federal and City Groups to Conduct Disaster Response Training Exercise

National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS)

News Release

Tuesday, April 28, 2009, 12:00 p.m. EDT
Contact: Robin Mackar, NIEHS

The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) Worker Education and Training Program (WETP) will take part on May 1 in a disaster training exercise with several other agencies in Cincinnati, Ohio. The exercise will include a table top instructional activity to respond to a simulated explosion and dispersion of chemicals from a Cincinnati business, as well as displays and stations for the participants to conduct hands-on work.

The training exercise will begin with briefings at the Millennium Hotel Cincinnati, followed by activities at the nearby Riverside Transit Center during the April 30 – May 1, 2009 NIEHS WETP Conference: "Local, State and Federal Partnerships for Chemical Preparedness and Response" ( The NIEHS WETP is administered by the NIEHS, part of the National Institutes of Health.

The disaster response exercise will involve over 150 conference participants who represent public health, industrial hygienist, lab workers, construction trades, medical, and environmental agencies, working through the response and recovery phases of the simulated incident, and focusing specifically on the health and safety aspects of those workers who will be impacted.

The City of Cincinnati, International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE), Interstate Chemical Terrorism Workgroup (ICTW), International Association of Firefighters, US Environmental Protection Agency, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Federal Bureau of Investigation and the University of Cincinnati are working with the NIEHS WETP to conduct the disaster response exercise.

Participants will be divided into small groups, each having an incident commander, safety officer and public information officer. Exercise activities will focus on the following issues: command, decontamination, mass casualties, incident surveillance and workzone/hotzone. The goal is to share model programs and best practices from local, state, non-governmental organizations and federal agencies, with the result of stimulating discussion, putting into practice previous training by using shared material, and identifying gaps in health and safety management.

Linda Birnbaum, Ph.D., director of the NIEHS and National Toxicology Program (NTP) commented, "NIEHS is pleased to participate in this important training exercise to promote information exchange and bridge the gap between federal, state and local organizations involved in an emergency response. The knowledge gained from this exercise will better prepare all parties to deal with an emergency response and ultimately save lives."

Cincinnati District Fire Chief Ed Dadosky stated, "These homeland security specialized equipment demonstrations will help educate area responders regarding local emergency response capacity so they know what is available to them and they can plan for and respond to terrorism and all hazardous incidents."

The Spring 2009 WETP Conference: "Local, State and Federal Partnerships for Chemical Preparedness and Response" will share knowledge, materials, and resources for chemical preparedness that response and recovery workers can use following a chemical incident. Conference attendees will have the opportunity to review a new draft NIEHS WETP training tool that addresses the health and safety hazards that response and recovery workers will face following a chemical incident.

Since 1987, NIEHS WETP has funded non-profit organizations, providing outstanding occupational safety and health education training to over 2 million workers involved in handling hazardous waste or in response to emergency releases of hazardous materials.

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