Cherokee Nation Training Draws Students From Japan

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March 13, 2003

Cherokee Nation Training Draws Students From Japan

Masanori Araski waits to be called in as needed for back-up in during a mock HAZMAT training.Masanori Araski waits to be called in as needed for back-up in during a mock HAZMAT training.

TAHLEQUAH-Four military personnel made a long trip from Japan to participate in training being offered by the Cherokee Nation.

Four members of the United States Marine Corp stationed at Camp Butler in Okinawa, Japan came to Tahlequah to attend Hazardous Materials (HAZMAT) training being offered through the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Cherokee Nation.

“I was able to go home to Texas for a week before coming here and that was really nice,” said Gilbert Cortez, one of the four Marines stationed in Japan. “I think this facility here at the Cherokee Nation is great.”

“We train individuals to be able to respond to both hazardous waste and emergency services,” said Kevin Howell, lead instructor for Tetra Tech NUS and contractor for the EPA. “We travel all over the United States conducting this training and I enjoy coming to this facility the most, because the training rooms are large, as is the bay area, which makes it easy for us to set up the eight thousand pounds of equipment that we must bring to teach this course correctly.”

Equipment for this one week, 40-hour course includes, mock bio-hazardous materials, bio-hazardous suits, decontamination devices and enough oxygen tanks for a class of 30 students. Students spend 3 days in the classroom and the remaining two days conducting a “mock bio-hazardous” situation.

“We simulate an auto accident where a truck carrying bio-hazardous materials has collided with another vehicle, knocking waste all over the highway.” Howell said. “These guys then suit up and evaluate the situation and implement what they have learned in the classroom to correctly get the situation resolved and safe for the public. The EPA cannot teach this course outside of the United States, and that is where these four military personnel come into the picture. They will take this training with them back to Japan and teach HAZMAT training to the Japanese firefighters and emergency medical staff in the area.”

“We will be teaching HAZMAT training to all personnel in the Pacific Theater,” Cortez said. “This includes all US military installations in the Pacific. Because there is a constant rotation of personnel on base, we have to keep responders up to date on the threat of anthrax or chemical warfare, and what procedures to follow should something like this happen in our area.”

“After the 911 incident happened, we as a military installation did not have the equipment to use in an anthrax scare,” said Carol Takushi, USMC deputy director of training. “We knew that we had to prepare ourselves for this situation so we began to purchase thousands of dollars in equipment to get us ready for such an incident.”

Roy Miller, USMC HAZMAT guru and Masanori Arasaki local Japanese instructor for Hazmat were also in attendance of this training.

“Masanori will take this back and train our Japanese firefighters in the use of this equipment while helping them to develop their own HAZMAT team,” said Takushi.

“This is a very important class for anyone to have in today’s society,” said Howell. “It adds to their own personal safety on what to look for in an emergency situation.”

HAZMAT training is offered through he Cherokee Nation once a year. For more information on training please contact Jimmy Summerlin at (918) 458-5403.