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Essay Paper on HazMat Teams

by Alicia Goddard

HazMat teams are scientifically created to handle situations which involve flammable, radioactive, explosive, corrosive, toxic, and pathogenic materials. These teams work with an experienced human resource and three indespensible tools namely, standard operation procedures (SOPs), Mutual Aid Agreements, and Incident Management System (IMS) (Nicholson 2003).

The person who is given the entire responsibility of controlling the HazMat team is the Incident Commander (IC). Upon arrival at the scene, the IC coordinates with all the different team member’s actions to effectively counter the incident. The IC is usually the leader of the commanding group and directly command the operations part of the team. However, the IC is armed with members who help in managing the scene and are also a part of the command group (Schnepp 2010). These include:

  • Safety Officer: The safety officer has the responsibility of identifying and evaluating hazards at a scene along with providing direction to the different team members to ensure the safety of all members who are operating on the scene.
  • Liaison Officer: The Liaison officer is responsible for acting as the point of contact to help with the cooperation of different agencies which are assisting to control the incident.
  • Public Information Officer: The public information officer is given the responsibility of acting as the point of contact for the media and all other groups seeking information on the incident.

“Span of Control” (Schnepp 2010) refers to the number of responders who can be commanded effectively and efficiently by a single commanding officer or supervisor. As of such the “Span of Control” is dependent on a number of factors such as:

  • Experience level of supervisor
  • Skill level and Experience of responders
  • The difficulty level of the situation being responded to

SOC is important to an IC because it will determine the overall efficiency and efficacy of the HazMat team. The SOC should be both liberal enough to allow team members to make their own decisions and at the same time be conservative enough to allow the IC to supervise the team and be aware of all its members.

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Nicholson, W. C. (2003). Legal Issues in Emergency Response to Terrorism Incidents Involving Hazardous Materials: The Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response (“HAZWOPER”) Standard, Standard Operating Procedures, Mutual Aid and the Incident Management System. Widener Symposium Law Journal, 9(2), 295-334.
Schnepp, R. (2010). Implementing the Planned Response Hazardous Materials Awareness and Operations (pp. 108-131): Jones and Bartlett Publishers.

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