A live-agent training pilot module with chemical warfare agents was held in Vyškov (the Czech Republic) from 30 September 2013 to 3 October 2013, for six students on the master’s course in ‘Protection Against CBRN Events’. The course, specially organised by Hotzone Solutions Group for the students, took place at Voyenský Výzkumný Ústav (VVU), that is, one of the few specialised facilities in Europe where practical field activities with real chemical agents are allowed.
The aim of the pilot module was to provide participants with competencies in analysing, planning and implementing basic response to possible incidents (including any accident, criminal or terrorist activity) involving chemical warfare agents.
In particular, the course consisted of three elements:
- Lectures on CWAs, detection and protective equipment
- Sampling and analysis, both outdoor and in the laboratory, of chemical warfare agents using simulants
- Sampling and analysis, both in laboratory (indoor) and at the Charlie Area (outdoor) with real samples of Mustard (HD), Sarin (GB) and VX
The Hotzone Solutions instructors showed the functioning of the equipment available for practical exercises, and explained to the students how to wear their PPEs, including suites, masks, canisters, gloves and shoes.
Lectures were given by Mr Dieter Rothbacher, co-owner and director of operations at Hotzone Solutions Group, a consulting company based in the Netherlands. Mr. Rothbacher is a former inspector, team leader, and head of the training unit at the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons; he also took part in UN weapons inspection and destruction activities in Iraq.
All the practical activities were carried out safely, by involving the site’s medical and paramedical staff.
The pilot module was important not only because it was the first time that our university students took part in a training course with live agents, but also because it was the first time that a deaf student, Mr Luca Rotondi, completed such a training. Hotzone Solutions has received a letter of appreciation from the course director of the currently ongoing national Master’s course in CBRNe protection.