May 24, 2013 9:15 AM by KATC
When most people hear the term "Illicit or clandestine Lab" they think of methamphetamine labs (meth labs). Although a majority of labs emergency responders encounter are narcotics, there have been documented cases where explosives are being made. All labs, no matter the final product being made, require synthesizing several household chemicals to create an explosive, hazardous, and possibly life threating environment for responders.
The most important thing first responders (fire, police and EMS) can to for their safety, during lab events, is recognition. Simple recognition and identification of items found at labs can provide responders with important information such as what is being produced, thus the associated hazards, and mean the difference in life and death.
In an effort to educate responders on incidents involving labs, drug and explosive, Scott hosted a training on May 23, 2013. This class used an innovative approach, based on the predictability of chemistry, to educate responders on the threats as well as the equipment required to safely respond to them.
The instructor, Mr. Chris Aguirre from Miami, Florida, has taught across the United States since 2006, in addition to Argentina, Canada, India, and Puerto Rico. He uses real-world experiences to educate first responders, fire and police, in addition to the United States Army's Delta Force.
In addition to responders from across the state (Lafayette, Scott, Monroe, Alexander, Baton Rouge, Shreveport and New Orleans), personnel from College Station Texas attended.
Attendees were taught how to accurately identify dangerous liquids and solids in seconds utilizing research materials and handheld instruments. Some items covered in the class were toxic industrial chemicals (TICs), explosives, chemical warfare agents (CWAs), narcotic precursors and weapons of mass destruction (WMD).
Putting together the pieces of an Illicit or clandestine lab can be a challenge, similar to a puzzle, always looking for the next piece. However, awareness (first responders and civilians), use of research materials and handheld instruments can reduce the hazards emergency responders face.
Local agencies attending the class were: Lafayette Fire Department Hazardous Materials Unit, Louisiana State Police Emergency Services Unit, Lafayette Police Department, Scott Police Department and Scott Fire Department