Emergency responders receive radiological training

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MOBERLY - Fire and law enforcement officers from three counties received radiological training Thursday at the Moberly Fire Department. 

The Radiological Emergency Program Coordinator from the Department of Health and Senior Services said the training provides them with the knowledge and skills to be able to respond to an incident involving radioactive material. 

“So, they’re learning just the skills necessary if a vehicle did have an accident, which is very rare, but if they would have an accident out on like US 63 they’d be able to not only protect themselves, but ultimately protect the health and safety of the public,” Keith Henke said.  

The training is through the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services and Missouri Department of Natural Resources. There were five instructors with 17 emergency responders. 

"We’ll actually teach them how to determine what type of radiation they are looking at," Henke said. "We’ll have some mocked boxes, packages, with no radioactive material in them, but it will have all the labels and markings on them for them to recognize what a radioactive material package looks like and how to determine whether its marked properly and determine whether a package could be leaking or not."

The training is offered statewide. 

“We’ve done anywhere from 10-15 fire departments throughout the state, offering this training to just make sure Missouri responders are prepared,” Henke said. 

The program features seven modules including hands-on exercises. The program also provides fire departments with the equipment needed to detect radiological incidents.  

Moberly Fire Chief George Albert said fire and law enforcement officers from Randolph, Macon, and Adair Counties completed the training. 

“We’ve got a good group of people that are actually getting training on this, so if we have an incident we can actually work together to actually take care of the situation,” Albert said.  

Albert said there’s a large number of radiological vehicles on US 63 that are going up and down the highway doing transportation. 

It’s lower grades of radioactive material but the route has changed where more and more of them are actually coming up 63 than over on 36 highway,” Albert said. 

Henke said they’ve been tracking hazardous material, specifically radioactive material, for the last five or six years across the state. 

“And we’ve seen no steady increase. It’s maintained. It’s pretty consistent,” Henke said. 

Captain Jerry Washam said the training was very informational. 

“We’ve had a lot of hazmat training but not so much as on the radiological side of things,” Washam said. “It’s nice to have that additional training.”