W.Va. Guard experts provide PPE safety training for regional responders

By By Edwin Wriston, West Virginia National Guard Public Affairs Office | West Virginia National Guard | March 16, 2020

CHARLESTON, W.Va. —

Members of the West Virginia National Guard's (WVNG) Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and Explosive (CBRNE) Battalion, the 35th Civil Support Team (CST), and the 35th Enhanced Response Force Package (CERFP) provided classroom and hands-on personal protective equipment (PPE) instruction to more than 50 first responders from Kentucky and West Virginia, March 16, 2020, in order to help prepare local public safety agencies on how to minimize cross-contamination through proper wear of, “donning” and “doffing” of PPE, at the Tri-State Fire Academy, Monday, in Huntington, West Virginia. 

The training was provided as part of a coordinated state-level public health preparation and response effort for the ongoing coronavirus 2019/COVID-19 pandemic outbreak, initiated by Governor Jim Justice, and being led by the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (WVDHHR).

“Today’s primary focus is to create knowledge on PPE, to talk about the right equipment to wear, and how to utilize best-practices to focus on good decontamination techniques that first responders can use to mitigate potential cross-contamination while keeping themselves and citizens safe,” stated WVNG Capt. John Ivester, CERFP, individual training branch, branch chief. 

“While COVID-19 is the hot-topic of the moment, this training is good for any type of disease, chemical agent, or biological agent. The training is all-hazards and helps first responders better work either independently or as part of a multi-agency interoperable response effort to reduce or stop the spread of any disease or secondary agents,” he added.

First responders were trained in the use of basic and advanced PPE that will be required to safely treat potential patients with COVID-19 or other infection diseases. WVNG instructors discussed general safety precautions, such as how to “don” and “doff” PPE, and equipment and techniques responders from fire, police, and EMS agencies can utilize to further protect the staff from biological agents. Members of the staff got hands-on experience with the prescribed PPE, and engaged in in-depth discussions on how best to utilize the various types of PPE equipment in their daily activities.

Proper acceptance, isolation, and decontamination techniques for EMS apparatus were also demonstrated and discussed in order to better protect them and their patients during transport to and from medical facilities.  

The WVNG will be providing additional just-in-time training around the state in the coming days and weeks to give additional first responder agencies and governmental organizations the classroom and hands-on opportunities to enhance their safety protocols and procedures.

CST and CERFP teams are designed to respond to domestic emergencies filling the Guard’s role to protect the homeland. The teams can assist local and state officials by assessing current and projected consequences, advising on response measures, and helping with requests for additional support. The WVNG CBRNE Battalion is the National Guard Bureau’s (NGB) lead for CBRNE training across 54 states and territories of the United States. 

B-roll available for download and use at: