In December, the National Alternative Fuels Training Consortium (NAFTC) continued its pilot end-user training sessions for the Clean Cities Learning Program’s First Responder Safety Training in Tennessee and Texas.

Clean Cities of Middle Tennessee and Nashville Auto-Diesel College hosted their pilot training sessions Dec. 7-8 at the Hermitage Police Precinct in Nashville. In addition, East Texas Council of Governments and Tyler Junior College (TJC) offered the two-day workshop Dec. 15-16 at the college’s West Campus.

The First Responder Safety Training sessions were developed by the NAFTC as part of the Clean Cities Learning Program, funded by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Clean Cities Program. NAFTC National Instructor Mark Schmidt attended both sessions and provided support to the hosting organizations.

Clean Cities of Middle Tennessee Coordinator Atha Comiskey and Nashville Auto-Diesel College Vice President of Education Doug Fox organized the Nashville event, which included attendees from the Nashville Fire Department, Tennessee Air National Guard and Tennessee Highway Patrol. Firefighters, sheriff’s deputies, police officers, instructors and mechanics from surrounding communities also participated in the workshop.


Clean Cities Learning Program First Responder Safety Training participants receive instruction during the Nashville pilot session Dec. 7-8. Credit: NAFTC

“Working this training was a great experience,” Comiskey noted. “I was surprised that the first responders in our state have not been offered this type of training as of yet. The officers who attended our meeting were very enthusiastic and appreciated the training. They have encouraged us to provide this training throughout 2011.”

In addition, Comiskey’s training offered a special incentive for police officers – Tennessee Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) Commission credits.

“I contacted the POST Commission here in Nashville; their committee met, reviewed our curriculum and voted to allow POST credits to be granted to police officers taking the class,” Comiskey explained.

She added that because police officers, firefighters and emergency medical personnel attend these classes, the training sessions will save lives as first responders deal with more and more accidents that involve alternative fuel vehicles.

“I loved being involved with this training and can’t wait to have another one,” Comiskey shared. “Knowing that if just one life is saved by what was taught made all the time and energy spent in the organization well worth it.”

Jeff Parks, Automotive Technology Department chair at Tyler Junior College, coordinated the Texas event, along with East Texas Council of Governments Environmental Manager and Clean Cities Coordinator Rick McKnight.


Attendees at the CCLP First Responder Safety Training at Tyler Junior College in Tyler, Texas, learn about the high-voltage cables on a hybrid electric vehicle. Credit: NAFTC

“They take their training really seriously,” McKnight said about the first responders who attended. “They were really attentive and interacted well with the trainer. They realize that one day (the training) might be the difference in an actual life-and-death situation.”

McKnight added that while the first responders do not see alternative fuel vehicles on a regular basis, they understand they will eventually encounter accidents where they will need to know the differences between AFVs and conventional vehicles.

“They were thankful to the NAFTC, DOE, TJC and East Texas Council of Governments for the training opportunity,” McKnight shared.

In addition, Parks noted that the training session participants gave positive feedback, referring to the course as “informative” and “excellent.”

“The training was well received,” Parks commented. “It’s very important for first responders to attend this training because they are the ones on the front lines, coming up to vehicles that are new to their industry. They will feel more prepared when they see a crash site that involves a hybrid vehicle or an alternative fuel vehicle.

“I’m excited that we could be involved in the project,” he added. “I think it was very successful, and I look forward to having our institution participate in future trainings.”

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