First Responders from Latin America and the Caribbean reinforce emergency decontamination skills

GRULAC region professionals participate in training to better prepare for emergencies involving chemical warfare agents and toxic industrial chemicals

14 May 2021
First Responders from Latin America and the Caribbean reinforce emergency decontamination skills

THE HAGUE, Netherlands14 May 2021The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) assisted emergency First Responders from Latin America and the Caribbean (GRULAC) in enhancing their decontamination procedures during an online course held from 10 to 14 May. The Special Risks Brigade of the Argentine Federal Police provided technical support for the training.

This was the second edition of the course held in December 2020 and was conducted in response to continuing interest from GRULAC Member States in developing the decontamination skills of their first responders.

The Deputy Superintendent of the Argentine Federal Police, Mr Arnaldo Saavedra, stated: “There is huge interest in the GRULAC region to learn new operational procedures to respond to a chemical emergency, especially in the decontamination area. The Special Risk Brigade of the Federal Police of Argentina has been sharing its expertise over the last years in the assistance and protection training cycles and, recently, in the specialised course on decontamination of chemical warfare agents and toxic industrial chemicals. Our Brigade is committed to continuous learning and maintaining high quality standards.”

The Senior Programme Officer from OPCW’s Assistance and Protection Branch, Mr Miguel Albaladejo, remarked: “The decontamination phase during a chemical emergency is one of the most critical aspects to be considered by first responders. Strong knowledge of decontamination modalities, procedures, and techniques is essential for operational success.”

The participants learned how to develop and implement decontamination procedures and techniques following incidents involving chemical warfare agents and toxic industrial chemicals. The First Responders also discussed their experiences of chemical decontamination and were provided with an overview of the Chemical Weapons Convention, focusing on Article X – Assistance and Protection Against Chemical Weapons.

The course was attended by 83 military and civilian professionals from a range of response systems, including civil defence, fire departments, police, as well as Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) defence military units. They represented the following 13 Member States: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Guatemala, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, and Uruguay.

Background

This was the second edition of this specialised training, and the seventh online course for OPCW Member States from Latin America and the Caribbean (GRULAC) since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, organised in support of the full and effective implementation of Article X (Assistance and Protection against Chemical Weapons) of the Chemical Weapons Convention.

As the implementing body for the Chemical Weapons Convention, the OPCW, with its 193 Member States, oversees the global endeavour to permanently eliminate chemical weapons. Since the Convention’s entry into force in 1997, it is the most successful disarmament treaty eliminating an entire class of weapons of mass destruction.

Over 98% of all declared chemical weapon stockpiles have been destroyed under OPCW verification. For its extensive efforts in eliminating chemical weapons, the OPCW received the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize.

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