Buzz Blog: What you leave behind Part II

Hello Fellow Hazmatters and welcome back to the Buzz Blog for Part II of What You Leave Behind. I had the pleasure of attending the 2017 Virginia Hazmat Response Conference in the 2nd week of September. VA Hazmat is the oldest running hazmat conference in North America for more than 30 years now. The conference is well organized with an excellent balance of educational, networking and exhibitor opportunities. I always thought of it as a smaller version of the IAFC Hazmat in Baltimore. Although not as big, there is still the top notch presenters you may see in Baltimore. What sets VA Hazmat apart is the local talent that presents every year. The state of Virginia has some of the finest hazmat responders in the hazmat nation. You can see these members present every year at the conference. They bring a wealth of experience, training and leadership to the conference every year. It is no surprise that one of their longtime members(Rick Edinger of Chesterfield, VA) has been named as chairman of the NFPA 472 technical committee. Chief Edinger’s appointment makes a huge statement about the quality of the hazmat responders in the state of Virginia. Under the leadership of President Todd Dyer, the conference and the committee continue to set a standard of excellence in the region. Make plans to be in Norfolk next year from Sept. 10th-14th for 2018 conference, You won’t be disappointed. I was indirectly introduced to this conference because of Larry Mabe’s influence on the hazmat community. Larry has been a long time participant at the VA Hazmat Conference as an instructor, facilitator and attendee.

Part I of What You Leave Behind covered Larry’s achievements as a community servant and family man. In Part II, I want to look at some of his achievements in the hazmat world. Larry was an integral part of the creation of the Harford Co. (MD) Hazmat team. Although only a part timer now, he still participates in monthly team training and responds to incidents. There are two things that stand out to me when i think about Larry’s contributions to the hazmat world. First is being presented the Level A award by the IAFC Hazmat committee in 2009. Larry was presented the Level A award at the annual IAFC Hazmat conference in 2009. The Level A Award bestows the highest level of professional recognition and respect to individuals or organizations having made significant contributions to the hazmat emergency-response profession. The individuals chosen reflect exceptional levels of leadership, service and commitment to the hazmat response community while providing strong support to the IAFC’s Hazmat Committee, the Hazmat Response Teams Conference and the IAFC’s efforts in the hazmat arena. This award has been given each year since 2000(description from the IAFC website). I cannot think of a better way to describe Larry’s achievements than with this statement. He went way beyond just having an impact with his local community. His support and participation of the IAFC Hazmat equaled that of his dedication to the VA Hazmat community. As an attendee, facilitator and committee member, you can find him every June in Baltimore at the IAFC Hazmat. One of his main responsibilities was to work with apparatus and vendors for the exhibit hall. A complete list of his contributions and achievements would take ten blogs to list. The award description lists commitment as one of the desirable qualities. The word commitment is what I really think describes him the best. The definition says its being dedicated to a cause or activity. Larry’s causes included family, friends and hazmat community. One of his favorite causes is organizing and participating in the annual hazmat mini golf outing in Harford Co. MD. Every year in late October, members from hazmat teams in the Baltimore area convene at the Churchville Golf Complex near Bel Air, MD. The 2018 edition took place on Thursday Oct. 26th with more than 20 hazmatters participating. Numbers for this year’s training was less than normal however the players were no less enthusiastic. The event has been held for 17 years straight including this year. Participants from all varieties of Hazmat teams have competed in this annual event. Members are mostly from the region’s hazmat teams but have also included the MD National Guard 32nd CST and federal agencies such as the FBI. Retired team member Mary Worthington got the idea while playing mini golf with her family one day in the year 2001. Her idea came to fruition in late 2002 with the first hazmat mini golf day taking place. Larry was also in on the planning and now runs the event with Mary being retired. The event is always well organized making an enjoyable day for all. The training is turned into a competition with a variety of prizes for the best 3 team scores.

The real fun part is giving the gag prizes to the last place team. You may not want to finish last in this one unless you can take a joke!!! All in all, the best part of it is that you forget you are actually training. Any activity in a Level A suit sharpens the user’s abilities. You learn to work with limited vision, reduced dexterity and coping with stress. I am thrilled to see this date show up on the calendar every fourth Thursday in October. I even got to team up with Larry Legend himself one year(see photos above, Larry is on the left, I am on the right in both photos). We ended up finishing second on that day. Many other teams train in this fashion after seeing how successful this day is. I have to give thanks to Larry for allowing me to write these blogs with his permission and taking the time to answer my questions. I can only hope that i learn as much as i can from him before he fully retires. Thanks to everyone for reading my two part series on Larry and “what you leave behind”. I want to close this blog out by congratulating Lt. Bob McCurdy of the BCFD on his final retirement. He is officially off the books after serving for more than 30 yrs. Here is hoping for a long retirement full of health and Bushmills!!! Thanks to everyone for reading and see you again soon.

Sign up for the Hazmatnation mailing list!

HazSim Pro training system has been used to train across the U.S since 2011. Trainers in HazMat and Confined Space realized that ‘tapping the student on the shoulder’ was NOT effective training. This system uses NO hazardous materials and although may not look exactly like your front line meter, shows the important data which the all students needs to learn to ‘react’ to. Click HERE for video of setting up the system. Click this link for customers in action using the HazSim to better train responders. Click HERE for a quote.