Dec. 26, 2003 Jacksonville (Fla.) -- Fire/Rescue HazMat Lieutenant Rick Rochford hopes he has seen the last of the days when a response call to a tractor-trailer spill on the interstate, or a leak at a nearby factory, is affected by improper equipment or procedures that taint test results and potentially put people in harm's way.
"Our department currently responds to about 300-500 HazMat calls a year," says Rochford, also an instructor in chemical and biological sampling techniques. "It is critical that we as emergency responders have the tools to collect a true representative sampling of the spill that will not be cross contaminated in the field. Obviously, test results from these spills are extremely important. The results must be accurate."
Now, Rochford and other emergency responders focused on protecting themselves and the general public, while at the same time maintaining evidence at the scene, have a new "weapon" — the Bio-Containment System™ — on their side.
The National Technology Transfer Center (NTTC) helped Safety Solutions Inc., Boynton Beach, Fla., commercialize the Bio-Containment System, an easy-to-use, self-contained kit containing all the equipment and procedures necessary for proper sample collection and transportation. The system is the brainchild of Rochford.
"We needed a kit that is as simple as possible for a responder to go to the scene and collect, package, decontaminate and send for testing a sample of a potential biological agent," Rochford says. "Response to incidents that may involve biological agents has become an important aspect of the emergency responder's mission. In the past, there have been no set procedures to do this. The Bio-Containment System is the total solution that addresses these challenges."
Rochford says the system is equipped with all of the necessary tools required to obtain representative evidence samples of biological agents for presumptive testing at the incident scene. The system provides the procedures and documentation for establishing proper chain of custody from the field, through the laboratory and into the legal system.
The Bio-Containment System contains "certified clean" sample containers, detailed procedural guidelines, packaging and transportation standards and a four-part chain of custody, which details and officially follows the path of the sample to the laboratory, including who "owned" the sample during a particular time and what the owner did with the sample.
"The Bio-Containment System is a unique and very effective approach to the management of a biological event," says Mike Lucey, the NTTC's Emergency Response Technology (ERT) Program manager. "It is a prime example of what the ERT Program is all about3⁄4identifying particular areas of need within the emergency response community and identifying solutions to those needs."
A national initiative focused on commercializing products designed to keep firefighters and emergency responders safe on the job, the ERT Program is tasked with identifying technological solutions by way of commercial off-the-shelf technologies that meet the predefined prioritized needs of first responders. When those needs cannot be met by existing technologies and products, the ERT Program works with the various federal laboratories, universities and private industry to identify emergent solutions developed through research and development projects. The Program was established with support from Congressman Alan B. Mollohan (D-W.Va.).
"Although it is impossible to know when and where emergencies will occur, it is possible to plan for them — namely, by developing products and procedures that help first responders to protect our communities," Mollohan says. "That is the niche the ERT Program was designed to fill, and I am pleased to congratulate the NTTC on this latest commercialization success. It stands as another example of how we are benefiting from the service of Senator Robert C. Byrd, who had the vision to create the NTTC as a resource for our state and nation."
NTTC President Joe Allen says, "The ERT Program is in place to meet the needs of emergency responders everywhere. This technology offers emergency responders a tool that helps them to be more effective and efficient in this particular aspect of their job."
Earlier this year, the NTTC helped Safety Solutions commercialize the HazMat Smart-Strip, a cost-effective chemical-detection "warning badge" that assists fire, emergency medical, law enforcement, HazMat and military personnel in detecting hazardous chemicals.
For more information or to purchase the Bio-Containment System, call Safety Solutions at (866) 248-1050 or visit http://www.smart-strip.com.
Located on the campus of Wheeling Jesuit University, the NTTC is a full-service technology-management center helping federal agencies identify commercially promising discoveries, market them to American industry, and build partnerships turning inventions into products. For more information on NTTC, call (800) 678-6882 or visit http://www.nttc.edu.
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