By Shannon Arledge, Public Affairs Specialist
The first response community is committed to ensuring the citizens of their cities are protected during an emergency. However, traditional first responders do not have the ability to be everywhere during every emergency. It has become even more important that communities have the ability to sustain themselves following a disaster or hazardous event. The same holds true for private businesses who often times have unique skill sets that focus on infrastructure and necessary needs for communities to thrive.
Recently, several members of AT&T’s Network Disaster Recovery team attended the Hazardous Materials Technician for Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, and Explosive Incidents course at FEMA’s Center for Domestic Preparedness. The AT&T associates represented different states and are fully aware of their role following a hazardous event.
“My job is unique,” said Timothy Knezevich, special operations team leader, from Ohio. “As a part-time fire fighter, I bring both hazardous materials skills and telecom skills together. Thanks to this training, our team will be ready and prepared to deal with manmade and natural disasters, and keep the key critical infrastructure supported—that reason alone makes this training necessary.”
The AT&T Network Disaster Recovery Special Operations Team consists of 30 members, who live in different parts of the United States. During a major disaster they may deploy in support of other AT&T disaster teams, depending on the severity and manpower required. Over the years team members have faced potentially life threatening and other events that could cause severe injury.
“My confidence level has increased,” said Jason Brewer, field support senior manager, from Tennessee. “I enjoyed all aspects of the course, especially the toxic agent and biological materials training. I’m very satisfied.”
One member recalled a train derailment that resulted in a hazardous chemical release. His team was prepared to enter the affected area in the event AT&T’s network was interrupted. Another member recalled the hazards created by hurricanes, floods, aircraft crashes, and highway tankers.
“AT&T has created a team to deal with hazardous issues,” said Steven DiPaola, team project manager, from New Jersey. “HazMat technicians respond to hazardous materials, telephone technicians focus on communication problems. The AT&T Network Disaster Recovery team does both, and has the ability to respond, evaluate, and restore network outages.”
“The CDP has great training programs and reinforces our necessary on-the-job skills,” said Knezevich. “The instruments were challenging, but the exposure to different technologies was well worth it. This course built on previous training courses and presented new skills, with a hands-on approach. Hands down, the best way to learn, and useful to our company.”