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Soldiers receive college credit through Hazardous Waste Worker training

By Kalene Lozick | 1ST INF. DIV. POST | December 15, 2017

     Twenty-four service members and dependents are working their way through a Hazardous Waste Worker training through Barton Community College at Fort Riley.

     The college has three annual, two-week-long courses on Haz­ardous Waste Worker training for Soldiers of Fort Riley who are looking to gain college credit at no cost.

     “This class started Nov. 27,” said James Henderson, instruc­tor of Hazardous Materials and Emergency Services. “We start off with a day and a half of just general awareness. That’s fol­lowed by 3 1/2 days of concentrating only on hazardous ma­terials. After those 3 1/2 days of hazardous materials, they will have a final exam on that. They are required to get at least an 80 percent.”

     Soldiers receive classroom training initially before their in­struction becomes blended. During the second week, Soldiers start their hands-on training.

    “The second week they’ll go into 40 hours of Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response,” Henderson said. “So in the HAZWOPER … we talk about hazards of a work site, we teach them how to build a health and safety plan. Then based off that health and safety plan — they’re building on that (plan) all week long —I give them a scenario and we build a hazardous waste site here at our training facility. On (the final) Friday, they spend that day mitigating the hazardous waste site.”

     Staff Sgt. Travis Coleman, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 3rd Assault Helicopter Battalion, 1st Aviation Regi­ment, 1st Infantry Division, said the training is awesome because of his job at Fort Riley.

     “Right now my job on Fort Riley is the HHC Company Safe­ty NCO (noncommissioned officer) as well as the 3-1 battalion safety NCO,” Coleman said. “So this is not only helping my job in the military, but it is going towards my degree as well. We get five college credits so that is helping my degree in emergency management.”

      The program at Barton Community College began with the school’s former dean who heard a request to train transitioning Soldiers.

     “Our former dean worked with a group called the National Partnership for Environmental Technology Education, these are a non-profit,” Henderson said. “What they did was provide people during disasters. They said it would be great if we already had people who were already trained so we don’t have to train someone every time we respond to a disaster. Since our dean was working with these guys, they said we should talk to the National Institute of Environmental Health and Sciences and see if they will provide funding for us to train military people who are transitioning. When they transition out they’re going to be all over the United States, which is going to build our capacity to respond to a disaster.”

     With a classroom size of 24, he said the class he was teaching Nov. 27 to Dec. 8 had 23 active service members and one spouse. He said most of them will begin to transition out of the Army within the next 18 months.

     “We actually have one Soldier that has been through some of the training before and he found out the different certifica­tion he would get from this training,” he said. “They walk away with two certifications and an OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) training card. So he wanted that because the objective is to respond to disasters but to have them trained to they’re more employable. About 60 percent of the Soldiers here will transition out of the Military over the next 18 months.”

     According to bartonsafety.org, the Soldiers can receive one of two certifications depending on the program choice. The first is a Specialist in Safety and Health and the second is the Certified Safety and Health.

     Henderson said the Soldiers learn much throughout the two week course.

     “They go from electrical to flammable liquids to how to conduct a spray finishing operation with flammable liquids,” he said. “They learn how to safely conduct dipping and coding op­erations with flammable and combustible materials. They learn how to handle compressed gases. That’s all in the first week.”

      He said the programs main objective is to give the Soldiers a skill to put on their resume.

      “I highly recommend it to a lot of people if they’re going to be around the chemicals and all the hazards they have with being in the Military,” Coleman said. “The instructors are also amazing. They teach us a lot of information in a matter of two weeks so we really have to pay attention.”

     For more information about the Hazardous Waste Worker training course call Barton Community College Grandview Pla­za at 785-238-8550. Barton Community College also offers Fort Riley Soldiers other programs and training services. For more information call 785-784-6606.