The National Alternative Fuels Training Consortium (NAFTC) participated in the second West Virginia Summit on Homeland Security, held March 19–20 at Stonewall Jackson Resort in Walkersville, West Virginia. NAFTC Director Al Ebron gave five presentations of the Consortium’s new Hybrid Safety Workshop for First Responders at the event, which was organized by West Virginia Senator Jay Rockefeller. Police officers, firefighters, school officials, scientists, health experts, and government officials and educators were among the 375 participants in attendance.

Jay Rockefeller Al Ebron

West Virginia Senator Jay Rockefeller and Al Ebron, NAFTC Executive Director. NAFTC Photo

The NAFTC’s workshop is designed to educate first responders on the extrication and safety of passengers in accidents involving hybrid vehicles. Hybrids are dangerous for first responders because they contain high-voltage components and must be worked on with extreme care and caution. The presentation included what hybrids are and explanations on the location of important operational components, a hybrid’s electrical circuitry, specific features of different models, and examples of manufacturers’ guides for approaching a hybrid involved in a wreck. A Toyota Prius was on display as an example hybrid vehicle.

Al with prius

NAFTC Executive Director, Al Ebron, explains the safety precautions of a hybrid vehicle during one of his presentations at the conference. NAFTC Photo

“The National Alternative Fuels Training Consortium played a critical role in our effort to help provide West Virginia first responders with the skills and knowledge they need to work with the latest technology,” said Senator Rockefeller. “The NAFTC’s demonstration of a possible accident involving alternative fuel vehicles enabled our police and firefighters to consider how they would respond if such an accident occurs in their town. I thank the NAFTC for their participation – they have helped improve the skills of our West Virginia first responders and, by extension, the safety of our West Virginia communities.”

Other activities at the summit were Sunday’s demonstrations of mass decontamination exercises and bomb detection displays by the West Virginia National Guard and West Virginia State Police. Sunday also included a simulated evacuation of Washington, D.C., which addressed how such an emergency would affect the State of West Virginia. The resort’s ballroom was converted into a state-of-the-art emergency operations center for the exercise. The first day concluded with Senator Rockefeller and Governor Joe Manchin addressing participants.

Prius Univ Motors

University Motors of Morgantown, WV furnished a Toyota Prius to be used as part of the NAFTC presentations during the conference. NAFTC Photo

Monday featured keynote speaker James Lee Witt, the former director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). He spoke of how, under his guidance, FEMA dealt with crises and natural disasters. Panel discussions also were held concerning how to generate new ideas on protecting West Virginia, the State’s unique emergency needs, the role of public educational institutions in emergencies, and public health preparedness.

“Our goal must be to build on the success of the summit and have everyone involved continue their work to take steps to meet West Virginia’s needs,” said Senator Rockefeller.

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