Every day, hazardous materials are transported by train or truck in Oklahoma and across the country, and the number of these shipments is growing. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, 147,760 highway and railway hazardous material (hazmat) incidents occurred nationwide during the past 10 years. Of those, 1,830 were in Oklahoma.

On Nov. 5 and 6, the Oklahoma Poison Center will offer the Advanced Hazmat Life Support (AHLS™) Course to train Oklahoma emergency medical professionals how to provide expert medical care for victims of hazmat incidents and toxic terrorism. This two-day AHLS Provider course, which will be held at the University of Oklahoma-Tulsa Schusterman Center, covers such topics as decontamination, rapid assessment of hazmat-exposed patients, antidotes and drug therapy, and the establishment of response systems in the community.

“Whether from chemical spills or acts of terrorism, the threat of hazmat exposures to people is at an all-time high,” says Scott Schaeffer, toxicologist and managing director of the Oklahoma Poison Center. Medical personnel need specialized knowledge of toxic substances to be able to rapidly assess hazardous materials patients, recognize the symptoms of particular toxic substances and immediately give specific antidotes.

“AHLS not only enables health care professionals to better protect our community, but also to protect our first responders and emergency staff,” Schaeffer added. “This course provides the training needed to be more prepared should a serious incident occur.”

AHLS was developed at the Arizona Emergency Medical Research Center, a center of excellence at the University of Arizona College of Medicine, in collaboration with the American Academy of Clinical Toxicology. More than 13,000 emergency medical professionals are AHLS-verified providers, serving their local communities. At the completion of this course, 50 new verified providers will be serving Oklahoma.

To register for the course, visit www.ahls.org, and click on “Upcoming Courses” to find the ‘Tulsa, OK’ Provider course.

The Oklahoma Poison Control Center, a program of the OU College of Pharmacy at the OU Health Sciences Center, is one of 57 accredited regional poison control centers in the United States.