SHELBYVILLE, Tenn. — As the nation observes the 12th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks on America, Tennessee first responders will be upgrading their techniques.
Personnel, mostly from the Bedford County Fire Department, will undergo hazardous materials training Sept. 9-13 at Middle Tennessee Education Center, 200 Dover St., in Shelbyville.
The 22-hour operations level course, which will be guided by the Tennessee Fire Service and Codes Enforcement Academy, meets the requirements of the National Fire Protection Association competencies for the first responder at the operational level.
The course also meets or exceeds the standards required by the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency.
Students will perform defensive controls, decontamination processes, putting on and taking off personal protective equipment, including self-contained breathing apparatuses, and more.
The bravery of first responders such as police officers, firefighters and paramedics has been hailed as key to preventing casualty numbers from escalating further at the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Arlington, Va., when terrorists attacked the United States on Sept. 11, 2001.
Of the more than 2,700 people killed in those attacks, 343 were firefighters and paramedics, according to New York Magazine’s Encyclopedia of 9/11.
Data from the Fire Department of the City of New York show that firefighters who were exposed to toxins and dust at Ground Zero were 19 percent more likely to develop cancer than unexposed workers.
“To me, it’s unimaginable,” said Brian Cantrell, training officer for the Bedford County Fire Department, “and I hope it’s something we never have to go through again as a nation.
“But there’s no better way to prepare for these types of challenges than through education.”
The students will undergo written and practical tests in order to achieve certification.
The Middle Tennessee Education Center is a joint effort of the Bedford County government, Middle Tennessee State University and Motlow State Community College to bring higher education to Bedford County and surrounding areas.
“We here at MTEC are honored to host these first responders as they conduct this extremely important HAZMAT training,” said Wayne Dillingham, MTEC coordinator. “In addition to our providing college courses in Shelbyville, we want to serve the community any way we can. We can imagine no better way than our supporting first responders.”