Date: Tue, 28 Jun 2011 10:29:14 -0400
Reply-To: DCHAS-L Discussion List <DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**LIST.UVM.EDU>
Sender: DCHAS-L Discussion List <DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**LIST.UVM.EDU>
From: "Hadden, Susan [PRDUS]" <SHADDEN**At_Symbol_Here**ITS.JNJ.COM>
Subject: Re: Boston College incident follow up
In-Reply-To: <9375A4B942930D458099C4FB6E0874A896D2E0DFA2**At_Symbol_Here**>
I agree with Dr. Norwood. As an old EMT, we practiced, practiced,
practiced until you responded automatically. To this day, if someone
utters the phrase "Annie, Annie, are you ok?" it still triggers the CPR
response in me ("You, go call 911", look, listen, feel...). It became
second nature to respond appropriately. 

But the issue is, how do we get our customers (scientist, etc) to
practice their emergency response procedures enough so that they will do
the right thing when flustered, excited, scared or dazed? 

I like the idea of good simulations such as the demo that a mid-Western
college used to do of a burning dorm room or real-fire fire extinguisher
training. Hands on training beats classroom training anytime. But my
audience (pharma R&D) doesn't want to take the time for such things.
They just want to do the minimum to fill the requirement so they can get
back to work. Online training is more popular than classroom now,
because it takes less time. But we lose the opportunity for greater

If anyone has a solution for making safety training as realistic as
possible and personal, that can be scaled to many varied students, I'll
nominate them for a Nobel prize.

-----Original Message-----
From: DCHAS-L Discussion List [mailto:DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**] On Behalf Of
Norwood, Brad
Sent: Tuesday, June 28, 2011 9:03 AM
To: DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**LIST.UVM.EDU
Subject: Re: [DCHAS-L] Boston College incident follow up


While there is *some* evidence that communication/culture barriers or
differences *might* have played a role here, in my mind the fundamental
issue is training.

Please understand - I am not harping on BC's training in particular, but
EVERY training program - except one - of which I've ever been a part.

The fundamental truth is that when we get in a panic/emergency
situation, if this is the first time we've ever really thought about
what we would do we will almost inevitably do the wrong thing.  This
brings me to the ONE training program that I've been involved in that
(IMO) got things very nearly totally correct.  Prepare to groan.

The United States Navy (other branches may have similar systems, but
after 20 years active and reserve, the Navy's is the one I'm familiar

Emergency training in the Navy is focused on:

1) Simulation of actual events that have happened elsewhere (i.e. "We
know what they did, but what would you do?")

2) Realistic scenarios of desperate (and, sometimes not so desperate)

3) Careful (if primitive) simulation of adverse conditions.  Are you
fighting a fire?  Then smoke will obscure your view if it takes too long
(and we would get green translucent plastic placed over the face shields
of our Emergency Air Breather masks, and have to continue fighting the
fire until it was out and the space was ventilated).

4) Repetition, repetition, repetition.

5) Review and discussion of how the responders handled the situation -
what they did right, what they did wrong.  In some cases, we turned
right around and repeated the drill if it was determined (in the
oh-so-subjective opinion of the Executive Officer) that the way the
casualty was handled might have led to loss of life or even the entire
boat (submarine).

Our saying was, you fight like you train.  This is true in warfare, but
the focus was getting people "comfortable" with the emergency situation
so that in the shock of a real casualty, we would switch into automatic
mode and do things the way we had been trained.

Ms. Cho was probably so flummoxed and surprised by what happened, that
she defaulted to "I will go home and get my first aid kit".  In the
process of doing so, I'm also confident she walked past at least one
other convenient first aid kit and a couple of phones on which she could
have called for help (not to mention the cell phone that was undoubtedly
in her pocket).  I had a similar situation occur here at our lab, where
*one month* after fire extinguisher training (putting out a real fire
with a real fire extinguisher), we had a minor fire in an instrument.
The technician ran right past the CO2 fire extinguisher to get some
water to throw on this *electronic* device, thereby destroying a
controller worth about $5K and a lost day of productivity.

So, to sum up:  Don't look for additional placards or signs by the phone
or language/cultural training to fix this problem.  The fundamental
issue here is getting people to automatically think and act the way we
need them to *in the moment of panic* when an actual accident occurs.
This requires a far more realistic, frequent and site-specific kind of
training.  That also means that there is no "one size fits all"
bureaucratic solution that should (or can) be imposed from above.  WE
are the answer.  

Just my $0.02

Dr. Bradley K. Norwood
Arista Laboratories, Inc.
1941 Reymet Road
Richmond, VA  23237
(804) 271-5572

************** D i s c l a i m e r *************** 
This e-mail message is confidential and may contain legally privileged
information. If you are not the intended recipient you should not read,
copy, distribute, disclose or otherwise use the information in this
e-mail. Please also telephone us (804-271-5572), or fax us
(804-271-5594), immediately and delete the message from your system.
E-mail may be susceptible to data corruption, interception and
unauthorized amendment, and we do not accept liability to such
corruption, interception or amendment or the consequences thereof.

-----Original Message-----
From: DCHAS-L Discussion List [mailto:DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**] On Behalf Of
Secretary, ACS Division of Chemical Health and Safety
Sent: Tuesday, June 28, 2011 7:58 AM
To: DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**LIST.UVM.EDU
Subject: [DCHAS-L] Boston College incident follow up

Gail asked me to pass this along to the list as background for some of
the discussion occurring here. I would also note that there is a lot of
speculation about the event in the media and blog-world; a summary can
be found at

- Ralph 

From: Gail Hall 
Date: Jun 27 2011

The Chemistry Department and EHS at Boston College train every graduate
student initially and annually to call Campus Safety in the event of an
emergency. There are signs at every phone. There is even a question on
the quiz that they have to take to get their keys. 

At the moment we are still collecting information and don't have a cause
for the explosion or a reason that the student acted as she did.  We
seem to have had our share of learning opportunities in the past 18
months, and I will share our hypotheses and/or conclusions on this one
when we have been able to fully research the matter.  I hate to think I
have enough material for an article in JCHAS, but it's beginning to look
that way.

In the meantime, if anyone has any ideas about sources of pictograms to
help communicate certain things to students for whom English is the
second language, we'd appreciate the information.


Gail Hall
Director, EH&S
Boston College

Previous post   |  Top of Page   |   Next post

The content of this page reflects the personal opinion(s) of the author(s) only, not the American Chemical Society, ILPI, Safety Emporium, or any other party. Use of any information on this page is at the reader's own risk. Unauthorized reproduction of these materials is prohibited. Send questions/comments about the archive to
The maintenance and hosting of the DCHAS-L archive is provided through the generous support of Safety Emporium.