May 18, 2009: Where can healthcare professionals learn to manage HAZMAT situations?

Situations such as acts of terrorism, industrial accidents, or chemical spills on the country's interstate or railroad systems, may cause life-threatening hazmat exposures.  Pre-hospital medical care providers and hospital staff must rapidly recognize the symptoms of toxic exposure and immediately provide appropriate treatment.  At the Tennessee Poison Center (TPC) we are frequently contacted by healthcare providers regarding management of patients exposed to hazardous materials.

To help address this need, the TPC will be providing the Advanced HAZMAT Life Support (AHLS) course 3-4 times per year. This course was developed by the Arizona Emergency Medicine Research Center in partnership with the American Academy of Toxicology. The Advanced Hazmat Life Support Provider program is an intensive, two-day course that gives health professionals a timely and effective response strategy in the medical management of hazmat incidents.  This course does NOT teach one to be a HAZMAT responder or technician at the HAZMAT site but rather teaches the healthcare professional to recognize signs and symptoms of a toxidrome and institute appropriate therapy.  Participants will receive a four-year verification status upon successful completion of the course.

This course covers topics including pesticides, corrosives, toxic inhalants and chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear agents.

The AHLS Provider course trains the participant to:

  • Rapidly assess hazmat patients
  • Recognize toxic syndromes (toxidromes)
  • Apply the poisoning treatment paradigm
  • Identify and administer specific antidotes

Further course information will be forthcoming for this fall.

Question prepared by: John G. Benitez, MD, MPH   Medical Toxicologist


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Donna Seger

Medical Director

Tennessee Poison Center


Poison Help Hotline: 1-800-222-1222