THE HAGUE, Netherlands — 3 May 2018 — First Responders from Latin America and the Caribbean enhanced their capabilities in emergency response to chemical incidents during a regional basic training course held in Panama City, Panama from 23 to 27 April 2018.
The training was jointly run by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and the Panamanian National Authority for the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) with the support of the Panamanian Firefighter Corps and the cooperation of the National Security Council.
Addressing the course participants, Cnl Jaime Villar, General Director of the Panamanian Firefighter Corps stated: “I hope that this training will contribute to building preparedness in your respective states to respond quickly and effectively to chemical incidents - which is also a component of our common endeavours to enhance regional peace and security”.
The training strengthened the capacity of participant States Parties to respond to incidents involving both chemical warfare agents and toxic industrial chemicals. Furthermore, it provided the participants with knowledge on monitoring, detection, and decontamination operations, as well as first aid in the field.
In addition to theoretical knowledge, the course included a practical session where participants could apply their newly obtained knowledge.
Thirty-three participants represented 17 OPCW Member States: Argentina, Barbados, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Honduras, El Salvador, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, and Uruguay.
These first responders will continue their training at an upcoming advanced course and exercise in Argentina at the end of May.
As the implementing body for the Chemical Weapons Convention, the OPCW oversees the global endeavour to permanently and verifiably eliminate chemical weapons. Since the Convention’s entry into force in 1997 – and with its 192 States Parties – it is the most successful disarmament treaty eliminating an entire class of weapons of mass destruction.
Over 96 per cent of all chemical weapon stockpiles declared by possessor States have been destroyed under OPCW verification. For its extensive efforts in eliminating chemical weapons, the OPCW received the 2013 Nobel Prize for Peace.