THE HAGUE, Netherlands — 19 June 2018 — Fifteen first responders from across the globe learned how to handle live warfare agents during a training held in Zemianske Kostol’any, Slovakia, from 4 to 14 June.
During the training – run by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and the Government of the Slovak Republic – participants worked with live chemical agents in a controlled training environment.
“While the OPCW offers a breadth of training opportunities across the world every year, few emergency response professionals get the opportunity to handle real chemical warfare agents in an operational training environment,” underlined Head of the Assistance and Protection Branch of the Technical Secretariat, Mr Shawn DeCaluwe. “During this exercise, the select group of specialists tested their capabilities in the situation as close to a real emergency as possible.”
Additionally, the attendees deepened their knowledge of safe practices, medical countermeasures, protective equipment, and the physical and chemical properties of chemical warfare agents. Furthermore, the first responders learned about the challenges of collecting samples from a variety of surfaces in a field environment.
The participants represented the following OPCW Member States: Armenia, Bulgaria, Greece, India, Morocco, Nigeria, Paraguay, Peru, Romania, Slovakia, Sri Lanka, Tunisia and Turkey.
This training has been held annually since 2004, and closely mirrors the Toxic Chemical Training offered to incoming and returning OPCW inspectors.
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 193 States Parties – it is the most successful disarmament treaty eliminating an entire class of weapons of mass destruction.
96% 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 Peace Prize.