Terrorist events involving the use of IEDs or hazardous materials are intended to inflict injury or death and create destruction and disruption of facilities or transportation systems. While effort emphasizing awareness and prevention of IED and Hazmat terrorism has been prevalent, efforts stressing adequate responses must continue to develop and improve if nations are to meet the continuing threats that IEDs and hazardous materials pose to population centers and key operational facilities/systems.
Improvised Explosive Devices Threats
An IED is a "homemade" bomb and/or destructive device to destroy, incapacitate, harass or distract. IEDs are used by criminals, vandals, terrorists, suicide bombers and insurgents. Because they are improvised, IEDs can come in many forms, ranging from a small pipe bomb to a sophisticated device capable of causing massive damage and loss of life. IEDs can be carried or delivered in a vehicle; carried, placed or thrown by a person; delivered in a package; or concealed on the roadside, according to a fact sheet from the National Academies and the Department of Homeland Security.
IED incidents have occurred at multiple locations, such as transit trains and facilities; buses, stations and stops; intercity rail trains and facilities; and other easily accessible and vulnerable transportation systems. Regardless of the venue, the incident requires first responders to immediately react to rescue casualties and protect and prevent against further injury or loss of life. As a result, it is imperative that every first responder and mass transit security employee be specifically and efficiently trained to deal with a post IED incident.
Hazardous Materials Threats
Hazardous materials or Hazmat refers to an item or agent (biological, chemical, physical) which has the potential to cause harm to life, property or the environment. The U.S. Department of Transportation refers to Hazmat as a substance or material which has been determined to be capable of posing an unreasonable risk to health, safety and property when in commerce and which has been so designated.
Hazardous materials can be harmful for a variety of reasons including flammability, toxicity, reactivity and explosive potential. When a hazardous materials incident occurs, prompt action by well-trained and properly equipped emergency responders is essential for a positive outcome. They need to be trained to respond in a defensive fashion without actually trying to stop the release. Their function is to contain the release from a safe distance, keep it from spreading and prevent exposures.
Course Training Offerings
America's first responders and mass transit police have an opportunity to enhance their ability to respond to improvised explosive device incidents and Hazmat materials incidents thanks to training being offered by the Joint Interagency Training and Education Center (JITEC) and Homeland Security Programs at West Virginia University (HSP@WVU). They are offering an opportunity for first responders and mass transit police to take part in two brand new FEMA-approved onsite training courses:
- Improvised Explosive Device (IED) Response on Mass Transit and Passenger Rail Systems (DOD-007-RESP)
- A WMD Event: Freight Rail Hazardous Materials Incident Response Involving Mass Transit and Passenger Rail Systems (DOD-008-RESP)
Both are 3-day courses that include classroom, tabletop and full exercise training that introduces and enhances current skills in IED and Hazmat response.
Training Facility Offers Realistic Experience
The distinctiveness of this training is the 2,800-foot Center of National Response Memorial Tunnel in Gallagher, W.V. The "tunnel" was abandoned by the state in 1987 after it was closed when Interstate 64/77 was built. Since being bypassed, the tunnel has become an unusual testing and training facility. From 1990 to 1997, the Federal Highway Administration extensively modified the tunnel and conducted the Memorial Tunnel Fire Ventilation Test Program. From 1993-1995, fires were set in the tunnel to test ventilation designs for Boston's Central Artery/Tunnel project. In 1997 the tunnel became a storage site for the West Virginia Turnpike.