IAFC Introduces the Electronic Learning Community

A new, free hazardous materials (hazmat) training tool, the Electronic Learning Community (ELC) was created to provide a flexible and inexpensive means for emergency first responders to receive high quality training. The goal of the project is to reach underserved volunteer responders who may not have the time or resources to receive training on hazmat, and specifically, hydrogen and hydrogen fuel cell incidents. The Hydrogen Response Considerations course has been developed as the first subject to pilot this ELC concept and is open to anyone.

The ELC is made possible through a cooperative agreement between the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) and the Department of Transportation’ s (DOT) Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA). Funding was provided by DOT’s Research and Innovative Technology Administration (RITA).

The goal of the ongoing partnership between IAFC and DOT is to expand awareness of critical information and issues related to hazmat, and enhance/improve preparedness for hazmat response for firefighters and other emergency responders.

The purpose of this project is to analyze the concept of an on-line distance learning approach for training the volunteer first responder community. Distance learning training systems were researched to determine if hazmat training could be more accessible and timely for first responders nationwide.

The effectiveness of an on-line distance learning training system will be assessed during this research, with the topic of hydrogen and hydrogen fuel centers being the focus of this training.
Hydrogen is an alternative fuel gaining momentum in the economy, as was ethanol several years ago. Hydrogen training, however, is competing with a variety of other first-responder training, therefore it must be robust in order to cover various learning styles and keep users engaged.

Training also must be NFPA 472-compliant to further make it worthwhile as a possibility of recertification hours for responders.  It is imperative to stay ahead of the curve to comply with federal law mandates. Utilizing the standards of NFPA 472 as a framework, hydrogen training can be developed with a focus on providing awareness level training for the federal requirement can occur while saving lives.

This training system was designed to grow in capacity as the need arises to include additional topic areas. Likewise, it will grow in feature and function as technologies mature and develop. The ELC hopes to expand its available content to include topics on additional alternative energy sources, emerging technologies, and other issues important to the emergency response community.

For more information, visit www.responder-elc.org.

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