Preparing students for hazardous waste

Cally Chisholm

Entering its fifth year, the Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response certificate continues to offer students an opportunity to receive 40 hours of training, which prepares them for situations to work around hazardous materials or substances.

This class requires an online portion, then students come in for two ten-hour days to participate in hands on activities.

“It’s the most fun environmental safety class that we have, because it is teamwork, working scenarios, and makes them think and solve problems,” said Dr. Mike Fletcher, professor of Biology & Environmental Health.

The role-play scenarios allow students to act out situations in which the air would be toxic.

“I enjoyed the scenario-based issues we did, and I like that because it gives us an opportunity to problem-solve potential issues we might have,” said Colt Anderson, senior Environmental Health major.

It also gives students an opportunity to figure out the different zones, including the hot zone, where the air is most toxic all the way out to the decontamination zone.

“They have to delineate that in some fashion by air monitoring,” said Fletcher.

Students learn about the appropriate gear like Level A, B, and C suits, which protect their skin. They also get to prepare for what it is like to carry a self-contained breathing apparatus while wearing bulky gear.

This course is not required but is offered as an elective to all students.

“It’s all about keeping people safe,” said Fletcher.