Hazmat, Technical Rescue

The Emergency Response Guidebook (ERG): Not Good Enough, Not Safe Enough

Issue 11 and Volume 173.

By Vyto Babrauskas The Emergency Response Guidebook (ERG) 1 can be found on nearly every fire apparatus in the United States and Canada and is generally the only reference book found on most fire service vehicles except for some specialized units. Its purpose is to ensure that fire department personnel approach hazardous materials safely and effectively. When hazardous materials are concerned, it is—or should be—their best assurance that everyone goes home. The ERG has been through numerous editions for decades; new editions are published every four years. Recent editions include 2012; 2016; and, most recently, 2020. With such a long history, you might conclude that the document distills the best available safety information for first responders, honed through decades of tragic experiences. Unfortunately, you would be wrong. The ERG does not comprise an adequate effort to ensure all first responders receive sufficiently good information so that everyone go home. I…

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