Lubbock first responders conduct hazardous material training sce - FOX34 Lubbock

Lubbock first responders conduct hazardous material training scenarios

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LUBBOCK, Texas -

With suspicious, threatening packages sent across the nation to key political figures in recent weeks, hazardous material training is a top priority for our first responders.

As a result, first responders across Lubbock are conducting annual hazard training exercises this week, including scenarios requiring hazmat teams.

These hazardous material exercises are designed to simulate real threat responses. 

"It's really easy to talk about how you will react and to try and think of all the issues, problems, and complexities that might develop, but when you're really faced with them, it's how you respond," Steve Presley, chair of Texas Tech's environmental toxicology department, said.

Presley said training takes place each year for any threat requiring a hazmat suit. This includes simulations of how to handle the suspicious packages sent across the nation recently. 

"The idea for the scenario this week has been to have a package delivered that we don't know what's in it, and it ruptures, and then we follow through," Presley said.

According to the Department of Transportation, the number of hazardous material fatalities has decreased nearly each year since 2011.

Presley said these annual hazmat exercises train first responders for any scenario. 

"Especially with the emerging pathogens and diseases coming along, and the packages being dropped off. It's important to maintain a capability to detect and confirm that it is an actual threat to the public health," Presley said.

He said the main goal is to be better prepared in protecting the public, which is why the exercises are designed to have things go wrong, including phones not working and people not being compliant.

"The whole idea is to make mistakes because then we will have a big debriefing next week about lessons learned. So, you learn things best when you do them wrong and learn how to do them right," Presley said.

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