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Training on a Deadline: Anthrax and USAMRIID
Monday, Oct 17th, 2016
Client Story: U.S. Army Medical Research Institute for Infectious Diseases
In 2001 a terrorist sent anthrax through the mail, killing 5 people and contaminating dozens of buildings, including the Brentwood Post Office in Washington, D.C. One of the most contaminated facilities, the post office was characterized as an uncontrolled hazardous waste site by OSHA.
Scientists from the United States Army Medical Research Institute for Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) were called in to provide technical support and oversight of the cleanup, but since they rarely worked in the field they had not yet received the OSHA-required certification for uncontrolled hazardous waste site operations, and time was of the essence. SafetySkills was tasked with the challenge of getting the scientists trained and deployed as quickly as possible.
In order to work on the site, OSHA required the scientists to receive a 72-hour Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response Onsite Incident Commander certification. Through their education and experience, however, the scientists already met and in many cases exceeded the minimum required competencies for the training, meaning two weeks in a classroom would have been a waste of valuable time.
The 26-month, $130 million, remediation project involved personnel working in confirmed hazardous environments in advanced personal protective equipment, employing sophisticated personal and equipment decontamination techniques. The remediation contract cost the government roughly $250,000 per day, and a major postal facility had to remain closed until the project was completed, making any unnecessary delays completely unacceptable.
The SafetySkills team rapidly audited job descriptions and training records to complete a gap analysis to determine what additional competencies were required to bring the USAMRIID personnel into compliance. SafetySkills developed and delivered an abbreviated program that fulfilled the training requirements in only 16 hours.
The 72-hour Onsite Incident Commander training typically requires not only expert instructors, but also equipment, instruments, materials and facilities that can be hard to bring together on short notice. Delivering the full training to the USAMRIID personnel on short notice would have taken a minimum of 60 days.
By reducing the training time from 2 weeks to 2 days and eliminating all unnecessary content, SafetySkills was able to accelerate the logistics of training and USAMRIID personnel were able to report to the cleanup site within 21 days.
Established in 1969, USAMRIID is the leading laboratory for medical biological defense research in the United States. Their mission is to “provide leading edge medical capabilities to deter and defend against current and emerging biological threat agents.”