THE HAGUE, Netherlands—30 May 2022—If an incident involving a toxic chemical were to occur, it is essential for medical personnel to be ready and prepared to respond. To boost the capacity of core medical experts to respond to an emergency involving toxic chemicals, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and the Brazilian National Authority for the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) jointly organised a regional medical training course in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil from 23 to 27 May 2022.
The training was held at the Brazilian Air Force Hospital do Galeão (HFAG), and covered a range of crucial topics related to providing medical assistance in incidents involving chemical warfare agents and toxic industrial chemicals. Participants included military and civilian doctors and other medical personnel involved in their country’s national emergency response systems.
The content of the training included clinical aspects related to pathophysiology, triage, diagnosis, and treatment of exposed victims. The medical management of mass casualties, medical coordination of the response and mitigation measures were covered. Participants also received practical training on the use of personal protection equipment. They learned to develop and coordinate an emergency plan for the chemical victim in the field and at the hospital facilities.
Sergio Frazao Araujo, Executive-Secretary of the Brazilian National Authority, stated in his opening remarks: “The Brazilian National Authority remains fully committed to the objectives of the Convention and expresses its desire to continue cooperating with OPCW for the disarmament and non-proliferation of chemical weapons, as well as for assistance and protection in emergencies involving chemical weapons or hazardous chemicals”
The Senior Program Officer of OPCW’s Assistance and Protection Branch remarked: “This course brings experts together to exchange experiences and strengthen capacity building to respond to events involving chemical agents. It also provides an opportunity to discuss practical challenges faced when building an effective emergency response system against chemical agents”.
18 nationals and international participants from 11 OPCW Member States in the Latin America and the Caribbean (GRULAC) region attended the course: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, The Dominican Republic, Panama, Peru and Uruguay. The training also included an international instructor under the umbrella of OPCW’s Instructor Development and Exchange Programme.
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 99% 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.