THE HAGUE, Netherlands – 26 February 2020 — First responders from the Latin America and the Caribbean region further expanded their skills in managing chemical emergencies at a regional table-top exercise, held in Quito, Ecuador from 17 to 21 February.
Jointly organised by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), the Ministry of National Defence and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs representing the Ecuadorian National Authority, with the support of the Firefighter Corps of the city of Quito, the course built on competencies gained by participants during previous regional emergency response trainings provided by the OPCW.
It was delivered by an international team of instructors from Argentina, Ecuador, Peru, Spain and Uruguay under the Development and Exchange of Instructors Programme run by the Assistance and Protection Branch, OPCW’s International Cooperation and Assistance Division.
The Minister of Defence of Ecuador, H.E. General Oswaldo Jarrín Román stressed in his welcoming address the important role that the OPCW plays in ensuring international peace and security and the significance of the table-top exercise towards strengthening coordination and security protocols at the regional level.
Mr Justo Quintero Mendez, from the OPCW’s Assistance and Protection Branch, underlined the importance of table-top exercises as an efficient tool to practise emergency management and coordination abilities of the participating institutions.
The exercise simulated an attack using chemical warfare agents, during which participants applied the Incident Command System methodology, a standardised approach to the command, control, and coordination of emergency response, which is widely used in the region. In their interaction participants also exercised the use of several emergency management tools and procedures.
Thirty-five attendees represented thirteen OPCW Member States: Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Honduras, Panama, Peru, Spain and Uruguay.
As the implementing body for the Chemical Weapons Convention, the OPCW oversees the global endeavour to permanently eliminate chemical weapons. Since the Convention’s entry into force in 1997 – with its 193 States Parties – it is the most successful disarmament treaty eliminating an entire class of weapons of mass destruction.
Over 97% 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.