The BCAS Technical Advisor (TA) program was implemented in September 2006 after a trial run as a single-person operation in February of 2006. The program provides realtime technical information to onsite supervisors and crews regarding hazardous substance and Chemical Biological Radioactive Nuclear and Explosive (CBRNE) responses throughout the province. In conjunction with each Regional Dispatch Centre, TA’s and supervisors provide a solid “first line” of defense towards protecting personnel and first receiver sites. Response considerations are through an “All Hazards Approach” initiative by the TA’s.
Technical Advisor Team: Goals and Objectives
- To keep BCAS staff, allied first responders and our patients from further harm
- To maintain and improve upon the health care status of all who encounter the team
- To protect all first receiver sites (e.g. Hospital Emergency Rooms) from contamination
- To be leaders in national standards and competency for providing safety for all first responders in CBRNE and hazardous material events
The program is administered under provincial programs through the Emergency Management Office from which it is funded. The current nine TA’s are regionally represented based on call volumes and participation by the regions. The lower mainland has five, provincial programs and lead TA, and one from the north, interior and Vancouver Island.
The training required is multi faceted beginning with either an ACP, CCP designation as a minimum. Followed by CBRNE Basic, Intermediate, and Advanced (Live Agent) training from the Canadian Emergency Management College (CEMC). The ability to instruct or train other responders in basic CBRNE response, donn/doff and utilization of multiple types of Personal Protective Ensemble (PPE) and medical countermeasures including auto-injectors and Reactive Skin Decontamination Lotion (RSDL) is also necessary. An understanding of National Fire Program Administration (NFPA) documents 472 & 473, which relate directly to CBRNE response for Fire & EMS builds the framework for participation in the TA program.
Training upon acceptation to the program is a six-week pre-read and exercise program followed by a 10 day session (in-house) of case studies, transcripts, exercises, relating to calls and call types including all current operational procedures and concepts currently deployed. A six week mentor / preceptorship is used before graduating to a single person TA responsible for contact when both student and mentor are comfortable. Oncegraduated your training includes, Haz Mat Awareness, Operations and Technician levels from the JIBC fire-training academy.
TA ‘s shift for one-week 7/24hrs at a minimum five times a year rotating alphabetically for the seven days. Call volumes have been growing yearly as not only BCAS communication staff, superintendents, crews, hospitals, physicians and even Fire Departments access the program for information and reference resources.
There is no other program like this in an operational status world wide to my knowledge and since it’s inception has not allowed one time loss injury in over five years as long as the TA has been involved in the call. Exposures do still occur to personnel but are either accidental in nature or through a communication break down.
Currently the TA program is the leader for hospital decontamination training provincially and is active in all parts of the province assisting facilities to respond to contaminated self-presenters. BCAS and all health authorities all have the same PPE which again is unique to any EMS and health authority relationship in North America and allows for a side by side working relationship and the ability to respond and assist any hospital that has been presented with contaminated casualties. This was evidenced outside St Paul’s Hospital during the Stanley Cup riots in June 2011.