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Station fire department teach PMO hazardous lessons

By Pfc. Brian J. Holloran | | September 23, 2005

The Marine Corps Air Station Yuma Fire Department held an Emergency Response Guidebook and Fire Department Integration class for the station Provost Marshal’s Office Sept. 27 at Building 916 here.

Michael R. Batson, assistant fire chief for the station fire department, held the class.

“The training was broken up in to two different classes,” said Batson. “The first class was the ERG class.”

The main purpose of the first class was to teach the military policemen how to safely deal with hazardous materials and how to recognize what type of chemicals they are dealing with, said Batson.

During that class, Batson emphasized the importance of the MPs recognizing the type of hazardous material that may be found on a scene.

“Whenever we get a call for an accident, PMO receives that same call,” said Batson. “The MPs’ vehicles are a lot more agile than our bulky trucks, so most of the time, they are the first ones on the scene, and it is important for them to know what it is they are dealing with when they arrive there.”

“The first point (Batson) made was that the safety of the MP responding is the most important,” said Cpl. Jared D.W. Stephenson, a PMO military policeman

“I try to ensure that the Marines understand that they are the most important person on scene,” said Batson. “If that MP goes into the hazardous area, then he becomes one more casualty that we have to rescue. With them down, we also lose that first response and any information he may have gathered about the type of hazard or what exactly caused it to spill.”

The class also informed the Marines on how to protect themselves and others during a hazardous situation.

“We were told to always try to get upwind from the accident so that the wind doesn’t blow the chemical into your face,” said Stephenson, a native of Portsmouth, Va.

During the first class, Batson handed out ERGs to all the MPs attending the class so they can familiarize themselves with it.

“The ERG is a great source of knowledge,” said Batson. “It gives the MPs many different ways to find out exactly what type of chemical they may be dealing with.”

With the guide, Marines can either use the symbol on the side of a vehicle and look up what it means, or they can use indicators such as the smell or the color of the smoke, said Batson.

The second class focused on how the fire department and PMO can better work together.

“With the second class, we wanted the Marines to realize that both PMO and the fire department will be working together,” said Batson.

He explained to the Marines some of the information the firefighters will be expecting once they arrive on an accident scene.

“We need the MPs to be alert and take in as much information as possible when they first arrive on the scene,” said Batson. “We need them to gather as much information as possible without putting themselves in any added danger.”

“We just wanted to show the MPs that we are really just one team and that teamwork is something we really need in this line of work,” said Batson.

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