Since 2018, Intervir.Pt has been educating hazmat teams, first responders and anyone who may have to deal with a hazmat emergency.
The two-member team is prolific on both social media and education and training events in Portugal. In fact, this spring the group hit the 100,000 views milestone on its Facebook page. And a month prior to that, the team helped set up and run a large-scale hazmat training focused on railcar emergencies.
Team members Miguel Moita and Johnny Reis also host a webcast called “Hazmat Talks.”
The organizers describe themselves as a small team trying to raise hazmat awareness in Portugal. They started Intervir.Pt to fill the hazmat knowledge gap and hazmat response they found in the country.
When I tried to acquire more knowledge to improve as a hazmat technician, I found that there were nowhere to find technical articles for this subject, Moita says. Portugal has a strong focus on the wildland fire problem, leaving some other technical areas — like hazmat — pushed to the side.
They say they have been trying to take small but consistent steps to raise awareness. To do this, they provide technical articles, teach awareness-level classes and share some books that can be used to deepen the knowledge. Whenever possible, they will conduct cross-agency training.
Their biggest win, the team says, is that they are starting to put hazardous materials response in discussion in Portugal.
The biggest challenge is to change the mindset of some first responders in Portugal and make them understand that these low-frequency, but high-impact events will happen, and that they have a key role in the way they will unfold. First responders have to start from the beginning. Before we don a Class A (Type 1A) suit and go inside the hot zone, we need to master some key theoretical and practical concepts, he says.