Fittingly, this Los Angeles County-based hazmat team is something you’d expect to see in an action movie. Highly trained and heavily equipped, this five-member team is the first call you make if there is a major CBRN event anywhere in the county.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s Hazmat Detail has only three hazmat tech specialists and two senior criminalists. Each member has their own vehicle equipped with sensitive radiological and nuclear detection equipment, as well as any detection and mitigation equipment needed for a CBRN incident. The team also rocks a $1.5 million, 40-foot mobile laboratory that’s mounted on a Pierce chassis packed with lab equipment.
The team got its start in 2000, just prior to 9/11. A sergeant at the time came up with the idea of the Terrorist Early Warning team that included a CBRN component. By 2003, the early warning team was a key part of the county’s terrorism plan.
They now handle all CBNR incidents throughout Los Angeles County including county facilities within the City of Los Angeles. They are the only non-military agency to have a chemical/biological detection K-9 on their team.
In addition to reacting to events, they conduct an average of 45 to 60 preventative radiological and nuclear operations monthly at key critical facilities throughout the region and along known smuggling routes.
To stay sharp, the team trains at least monthly with the Los Angeles County Fire Department.
While this lean hazmat detail hopes to add more personnel, they continue to be at the ready and be proactive to keep bad actors from turning fictional disasters into reality.