BONNERS FERRY —- On March 21, a class was held at the Armory building about identifying biohazards. The AWR-118 class is a new class for Idaho and is free to all first responders and members of the community.
Getting the instructors to the area required a class minimum of 20 people; 37 attended.
“We had police, sheriff’s office, all fire agencies, hospital, state police, emergency responders of all kinds, and emergency management,” said Boundary County ID Director of Emergency Management and Public Relations Officer, Michael Meier. “I was proud to bring it here but was afraid we would not have enough students to support the class.”
After seeing the finishing numbers, Meier and the instructors were impressed with the response.
“The instructor asked me that morning if I thought enough would show up and not drop out. He was stunned,” said Meier. “Next year I plan to bring the advanced Biological Class just to build on this years.”
The class taught about safety precautions and situational awareness when entering a potential biohazard situation such as proper attire, assessment of the situation, and how to handle various biohazards. They taught about identifying various hazardous materials including powders, liquids, and gasses to name a few. They also touched on how hazardous chemicals can be made and what each chemical concoction can produce.
The class also taught about diseases, such as how to scale them as a pandemic, epidemic, an outbreak, or an endemic, and the differences between them. There was a portion on biological agents both naturally formed or manufactured, whether the incident was naturally occurring or incidental, and how to handle either situation.
The course began with a pre quiz and ended with a final quiz, which passed the students on the class.
The eight hour class went into depth about the topics with instructors Dr. Joseph Kowalski and Don Buru.
“As I represent probation, and not what would be one of the common first responders, it was not fully clear to me what the ultimate value of the class would be, but as the day progressed it became more and more clear how imperative this information was to my profession,” said Chief Probation Officer, Stacy Brown.
As probation officers, they have to deal with people who have criminal thinking patterns, so knowing different biohazards and their components helps the officers to perform their duty in the most knowledgeable manner.
“Going over the items that are associated with the development of biological hazards, gives us one more tool to utilize when doing home searches,” said Brown. “I was amazed at the properties of the example powder we viewed. I just inverted the jar, and the minute or two I held it, the powder never settled.”
“I just wanted you to know how thankful Don and I are for the wonderful hospitality we received while delivering last week’s ERDBI course,” said Kowalski in a follow up email to Meier. “A number of people came up to me afterwards and thanked me for coming. I can assure you the pleasure was all ours. The evals were very nice and the hope is that we enhanced everyone’s knowledge of biologic agents in some meaningful way.”
The Essentials of Community Cybersecurity (ECCS) Course is available on April 23 from 8 a.m. to noon in order to inform attendees about how cyber attacks can affect individuals or groups, how they may attack someone, the vulnerabilities of computer systems and networks, and how people can keep themselves safe from cyber attack.
Though the course is open to anyone who wishes to attend, the target audience is emergency response personnel, incident response personnel, those involved in critical infrastructure, and members affiliated with industrial dealings.
There is no tuition fee, but has an eligible grant for the class through DHS/FEMA, and attendees may receive a certificate of completion at the conclusion of the class.
“Most of these classes are available to Boundary County, however it is difficult to bring the instructors so far away from where the class is sponsored from,” said Meier. “They do have their minimums which we must meet with all the expenses involved. We will continue to bring no cost, interesting classes that supports and educates First Responders and members of our community.”
For registration assistance, contact the Idaho Office of Emergency Management, Training Specialist, Natalie Lahti at 208-422-3417 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org or Michael Meier at email@example.com.