First Responders from across globe enhance skills in toxic chemical incident management

First Responders from all OPCW regional groups increased their skills in assistance and protection against chemical weapons and emergency response to chemical incidents during a basic training held online from 29 November to 2 December. The course was conducted by the OPCW in partnership with the National Authority for the Chemical Weapons Convention (NACWC) in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Malaysia and the Fire and Rescue Department of Malaysia (FRDM).

Undersecretary of the NACWC, Dr Raja Subramaniam, underscored his country’s readiness to continue to contribute to the goal of the Chemical Weapons Convention – a world permanently free of chemical weapons. He noted: “Malaysia aims at sharing our experience and best practices on emergency response to chemical incidents as well as strengthen international cooperation in this area. We are very fortunate to benefit from an excellent group of trainers from the NACWC and from the HAZMAT and Serdang Hospital in the state of Selangor who guide the participants through topics related to response operations including a new module for an introduction to scenario-based response, medical response and ricin threat.”

The Acting Head of the OPCW’s Assistance and Protection Branch underlined: “The OPCW remains committed to assisting its Member States’ efforts to protect their populations by responding in a timely and effective way to incidents involving chemical warfare agents and toxic industrial chemicals. Despite the restrictions imposed by the pandemic, we are determined to provide both the online education and hands-on training necessary to build up preparedness and first response capacities.”

    First Responders from across the globe enhance skills in toxic chemical incident management

    Originally intended to build the capacity of OPCW Member States from Asia, the course generated high interest in other regions. The training was therefore made available to military, police, and other emergency responders from all five OPCW regional groups: Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean (GRULAC), Eastern Europe, and Western European and Other States (WEOG).

    Through pre-recorded presentations, demonstration videos, downloadable learning material and live coaching sessions, the participants covered topics such as protection, detection, rescue, decontamination, reconnaissance, evidence collection in contaminated areas, scenario-based response, medical response, and ricin threat. The participants were also briefed about technical support available from the OPCW.

    The course attracted 79 participants from the following 29 OPCW Member States: Australia, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Barbados, Bhutan, Cabo Verde, Cambodia, China, Estonia, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Mauritania, Mauritius, Myanmar, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Romania, Senegal, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Tunisia, and Uzbekistan.

      First Responders from across the globe enhance skills in toxic chemical incident management

      Background

      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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