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Maintainers train on hazardous material clean-up

Hazardous Material trainees "decontaminate" Staff Sgt. Shawn Whittemore (center), 412th Maintenance Squadron F-35 propulsion systems journeyman. The students sprayed down and scrubbed Sergeant Whittemore after a mock-up exercise scenario involving hazardous materials. The training prepares the maintainers should a spill ever occur.  (Photo by Airman 1st Class Julius Delos Reyes)

Hazardous Material trainees "decontaminate" Staff Sgt. Shawn Whittemore (center), 412th Maintenance Squadron F-35 propulsion systems journeyman. The students sprayed down and scrubbed Sergeant Whittemore after a mock-up exercise scenario involving hazardous materials. The training prepares the maintainers should a spill ever occur. (Photo by Airman 1st Class Julius Delos Reyes)

Senior Airman Wayne General, 411th Flight Test Squadron weapons load crew member, measures readouts of hazardous samples as part of a flightline HAZMAT training exercise.  (Photo by Airman 1st Class Julius Delos Reyes)

Senior Airman Wayne General, 411th Flight Test Squadron weapons load crew member, measures readouts of hazardous samples as part of a flightline HAZMAT training exercise. (Photo by Airman 1st Class Julius Delos Reyes)

EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- The Human Resource Development office conducted a Hazardous Material Training exercise for flightline maintainers here Aug. 7 to 11 at the base theater.

The class focused on proper clean up procedures of hazardous materials for general site workers.

"The maintainers are required to clean up their (smaller) spills," said Monte Congleton, California Training Institute HAZMAT instructor. "As such, the base requires them to have this course. Once the materials are spilled, these materials can no longer be used for the aircraft. They then are tasked to clean it up."

Even though the maintainers were given on-site training, they still needed this formal training and 24 hours of on-site training, Mr. Congleton said.

The training is to ensure personnel are properly trained according to California Occupational Safety and Health Act and Environmental Policy Act standards for handling hazardous waste containment and mitigation, said Tech. Sgt. Charles Crews, 412th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron F-22A dedicated crew chief. It also ensures the base has qualified personnel to contain and clean up a hazardous waste spill.

"With the training, the maintainers can legally clean up after themselves," Mr. Congleton said. "With this training, they learn how to do it safely without getting anyone hurt. We are always preaching about operational risk management. Through this training, students will be able practice, thereby, saving their lives, health and the environment."

The three-day training consists of academic study and hands-on exercises.

The academic part of the training consists of learning the laws and regulations regarding hazardous materials, respiratory protection programs, different levels of suits, dealing with hazardous materials in a confined space and medical monitoring and surveillance, Mr. Congleton said.

The hands-on training included learning how to use HAZMAT's absorbent materials, medical monitoring, and testing environments for combustible gas or toxic and corrosive chemicals.

In addition, the students also learned how to take samples of the material and did an obstacle course in a HAZMAT suit so they understood what it is like to move and work in the suit.

The mockup was the culmination of everything the students learned in the past two days, Mr. Congleton said.

The students were given an exercise scenario of someone squatting on base land and accumulating hazardous materials, Sergeant Crews said. The students' job was to investigate the site, identify any possible hazards and then clean up as much as possible to prevent any harm to personnel or damage to the environment and property.

"The training is beneficial because I really think they get something out of it," he said. "It also benefits the fire department because when they have a spill, and we are called in, they know what the process is and can transition the emergency response side of it to the fire department. When we are done, we can transition it back to them for cleanup. The training makes for a smoother transition."

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