Great Environmental Safety Trainers’ Institute

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8/12/2021

Trainees working in HAZMAT gearScott Community College (SCC) is home to Eastern Iowa Community Colleges’ (EICC) hazardous materials training grounds and classrooms. Besides serving the OSHA, EPA and DOT training requirements of Iowa and Illinois businesses, the facilities host the Great Environmental Safety Trainers’ (GreatEST) Institute.  This year, due to COVID-19, the GreatEST Institute was offered in a one-week virtual format, with in-person training at Scott Community College August 9-13.   

The GreatEST is an instructor-development program for community colleges and their partner trainers located across the nation. It is funded by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), part of NIH, through a grant to the Partnership for Environmental Technology Education (PETE) which manages the Community College Consortium for Health and Safety Training (CCCHST). 

The GreatEST curriculum covers HazWOPER (Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response) and Confined Space Awareness instruction. The facilities share space in SCC's Career and Technical Education Building. A large 900 square-foot classroom can easily seat 20 instructors in small groups at tables, leaving an equal amount of space at the back of the room for hands-on indoor work in personal protective equipment (PPE).  

HAZMAT gearAn expansive 150,000 square foot outdoor lab encompasses a simulated waste site and monitoring stations where instructors practice working in Levels A and B protective equipment. An equipment building next to the outdoor lab is shared with the SCC Auto Collision Program. It provides another 2,400 square-foot of equipment storage space and plenty of room for instructor tables where they meet to work on projects related to their outdoor activities and to rest from the fatigue of working in hot suits and heavy SCBAs. 

Equipment includes a porta-count used for qualitative and quantitative fit-testing and a cascade air system for filling SCBA bottles, Levels A & B PPE for 20 instructors including Tyvek, boots to fit all sizes, radios, monitors, and hard hats. A confined space trailer, a former shipping container, is located next to the equipment building. 

John Morgan leads the Hazardous Materials Training and Research Institute (HMTRI) at EICC. He has been with the college 18 years and does approximately 11,000 contact hours of training annually. Ron Snyder and Don Ransford are PETE Master Trainers who have worked with John to design the GreatEST.

For more information about National PETE and the GreatEST Institute, contact NationalPETE@nationalPETE.org. The GreatEST Institute is typically held the first two weeks of June and admits 18 instructors each year. For more information about safety training available through Eastern Iowa Community Colleges, contact Kory Patzer at 563-336-3386.