Georgia Gwinnett College students “dress out” for hazardous materials training

Senior chemistry major Halee Jenkins and instructor Jim Grant

(From l. to r.) Senior chemistry major Halee Jenkins learns about the proper fit of a hazmat suit from instructor Jim Grant. 

By Collin Elder

Georgia Gwinnett College (GGC) has introduced its first continuing education program – training in Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response (HAZWOPER). The program certifies students in the proper protocols and safety measures for dealing with hazardous materials, including in environmental crises.

Dr. James Russell, an associate professor of biology at GGC, coordinated this program and said he is excited for this inaugural certification.

“HAZWOPER is a great way for students to beef up their resumes,” he said. “Employers in the environmental science field really look for those extra certifications, which means our students are more likely to be hired in their respective fields. This is GGC’s first continuing education course. I hope more are following, so we can get more students the certifications needed for their fields.”

The program consists of a series of classes in which students are guided through the processes of safely dealing with a wide variety of hazardous materials. The program includes a “dress out” session in which students gear up in Level C hazmat suits and walk a training course featuring  treatment of dummy waste barrels, maneuvering the barrels safely,  dressing down and decontaminating equipment.

The HAZWOPER certification program is available to both GGC students and those outside of the college. Shea Groebner, assistant director of EHS and Fire Safety at Georgia College and State University, traveled to GGC to obtain recertification.

“I think this was a pretty clear-cut example of how to take care of yourself and others. I look for certifications like HAZWOPER when looking for new hires,” he said.

Halee Jenkins, a Suwanee native and senior chemistry major at GGC, was excited to see various sides of the field.

“The suits were hot and the coordination between the students was tricky, but this is a great way to see how workers safely go about their jobs,” Jenkins said.

Download HAZWOPER event photos.

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