January 2012

Welcome to the January issue of the NCEC newsletter.

We wish all of our readers a happy and safe 2012.

2011 was another very busy year for NCEC - our 24/7 emergency responders provided vital chemical safety advice to approximately 4,000 callers, nearly 200 people attended our general and bespoke training courses, and our products continue to be popular and essential tools for those who deal with emergencies on the ground.

These statistics tell us just how vital a role NCEC plays in helping companies and the emergency services prepare for and deal with situations involving chemicals, saving lives and preserving property in the UK and overseas.

Looking forward, as well as providing real-time advice over the phone, we will be running more training courses and developing new products. Through this regular newsletter, we will keep you up to date with details about these as well the latest information on legislation, news and events (including our 5th annual conference, Hazmat 2012, in March).

If, after reading this newsletter, you would like to know more about NCEC's work, please visit our website, email us at ncec@aeat.com or phone +44 (0) 1235 75 3654. Or, you could follow us on Twitter and if you're wondering why you should bother with Twitter, I've penned a few personal thoughts on the subject (see NCEC in Action below).

Happy reading!

Bill Atkinson

Emergency Response Knowledge Leader

email: ncec@ricardo-aea.com
web: www.the-ncec.com

Follow ncec_uk on Twitter


Another busy year for NCEC

Over the last decade, we have seen a vast increase in the number of emergency calls received by NCEC, with a rapid increase in call volumes in the earlier years, but reaching a steady plateau for the past 4 years. The total number of calls received by NCEC emergency lines during 2011 was approximately 4,000. Of these, about 9% were through our role as the Chemsafe emergency call centre for the UK.


Pocket Chemdata® for AndroidTM

Just before Christmas, we launched our new Pocket Chemdata app. Incorporating the full Chemdata® database, the new app is designed to run on Android smartphones and tablet devices, and is available for download from the Android Marketplace.

Pocket Chemdata has been developed to provide emergency services and private organisations handling chemicals access to timely, accurate chemical information at the scene of an emergency, cutting crucial response time. In an emergency, rapid access to relevant and easy-to-understand chemical information is critical for making the right decisions. Pocket Chemdata is the invaluable resource that can help you save lives and exercise damage control.

The app provides you with a free 14-day trial of the full app. After the trial period has expired, you can buy a Pocket Chemdata licence subscription directly from NCEC and obtain an authorisation key to unlock the app for continued use.

We have seen a very positive response to the launch of the app with many downloads from the Android Marketplace. Download your free 14-day trial today!

Android is a trademark of Google, Inc.

2011.2 Chemdata®

The release of the 2011.2 version of Chemdata is now scheduled for late January or early February. As well as the usual updates, this version will include a new, user-customisable section that will enable users to select the document sections that are the most important to them and the order in which they want to view them. A number of fire services have requested this type of functionality and we hope it will be of benefit to all our users.

To request a trial of our Chemdata software for PCs click here.

Chemical spills training gets good response

Over the last few months, NCEC's specialists have been very busy running bespoke chemical spill response courses for a number of clients.

Some of the courses were purely theoretical, teaching delegates best practice for approaching a spillage they might have. Others included a practical element that enabled clients to stage a mock spillage at their premises and provided the response teams with an opportunity to train in a safe and guided manner.

Two of the clients were Nottinghamshire County Council and a Facilities Management company, SOG Ltd. Here is what they had to say about the training they received:

"Thanks to NCEC for the 'Chemical Spill Response' course. The session was tailored to our requirements, with opportunity for discussion and plenty of good-quality hand-outs. The delivery was appropriate for our team of Health and Safety Advisors and the feedback has been positive. I think we all feel better prepared for dealing with chemical emergencies in the future."
David Hounsell, Nottinghamshire County Council

˜Thank you for arranging the interactive spill training at our site. Everyone found it thought provoking and extremely useful. We have made a number of changes now to our procedures. Good to get an independent view."
Helen Schoelzel, SOG Ltd

Fire service operational guidance manual update

Publication of the new Fire and Rescue Service Operational Guidance Hazardous Materials Incidents manual has been delayed by the UK Department of Communities and Local Government. No firm date has been set for publication, but it is expected to be published sometime this spring.

The new manual contains updated guidance on dealing with incidents involving radioactive materials, asbestos and acetylene cylinders. It is probably the new acetylene cylinder procedures that have generated most interest as they are so radically different from the previous protocols.

The revised procedures are based on evidence gathered during experiments carried out at BAM in Germany and have been through the consultation process. While full details have not yet been published, the main changes can be summarised as follows:

  • Only a high heat source, such as direct flame contact, can initiate decomposition in a dissolved acetylene (DA) cylinder.
  • Mechanical shock alone to a cold cylinder cannot initiate decomposition.
  • For heated cylinders, a suitably sized hazard zone should be established (based on a number of criteria, such as the size and number of cylinders involved and shielding available) of up to 200 metres (but no precise figure is stipulated).
  • There should be a COOLING PHASE during which water cooling is continued for at least 1 hour.
  • During the following MONITORING PHASE, temperature checks of the cylinder shell should be made every 15 minutes. If any increase in temperature is observed, a further 1 hour of continuous water cooling should be applied to the cylinder before its temperature is rechecked.
  • Once the cylinder has been ˜effectively cooled" (i.e. shell temperature remains at ambient temperature for 1 hour without being water cooled and is not leaking) then there is no risk of cylinder failure.


Dealing with chemical exposures - are you prepared?

First aid aims to preserve life, prevent further harm and promote recovery. It is defined as the emergency care or treatment of a sick or injured person before professional medical care is available and may be performed by a non-expert, albeit trained first aider or simply by a lay person with no formal training.

Typical first aid training demonstrates procedures to carry out in the event of loss of breathing or circulation (cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR)), bleeding, broken bones, asthma, stroke, etc, but little is taught about first aid following a chemical exposure.

The reason for this may simply be because, for most chemicals, there are not that many procedures that can be carried out by the first aider beyond common- sense practices. In a lot of cases, patients can be treated symptomatically until a medical professional or toxicologist can be contacted. However, for a number of specific chemicals, specialist first aid is critical for preserving life, preventing further harm and promoting recovery of the casualty. It is obviously important to be aware of which category the chemical you are dealing with falls into, so that you can adequately treat the casualty and protect yourself.

All the Emergency Responders at NCEC are qualified chemists who are also trained to understand the principles of chemical first aid.

If they are contacted during a chemical exposure, they will be able to provide key information on the possible health effects following inhalation, ingestion and skin/eye contact, and give advice on how to deal with the patient. They will provide advice on specific first aid for the chemical in question or give reassurance that only symptomatic treatment is adequate. However, they do not replace medical professionals, especially if long-term effects have been indicated. Hence, additional advice should be sought after the first phase of the incident.

Alternatively, Safety Data Sheets (SDSs) include a section on first aid following inhalation, skin/eye exposure and ingestion. For inhalation the advice seems straightforward - move the casualty from the source into fresh air and treat symptomatically (i.e. apply CPR if breathing has stopped). However, what would you do if the chemical off-gasses? What are the alternatives if it is stated not to do mouth-to-mouth resuscitation? Is it safe to use a bag valve mask?

Similarly, washing the affected area if skin or eye exposure occurs is usually recommended. However, do you know how long the area should be washed for - 15, 30 minutes? Should soap and water be used or just water? Does it make a difference? What is the best technique to use to avoid contamination of other areas? What happens if the chemical is reactive with water?

First aid following the ingestion of chemicals is always under debate among toxicologists and medics. Should you give the patient water or milk to drink and, if so, how much? Or do you simply rinse the mouth out with water? Do you induce vomiting? Will water given to the patient react if acid has been swallowed?

If you don't know the answers to these questions, are you confident that you could preserve life, prevent further harm and promote recovery to friends and colleagues should a chemical incident arise?

First aid training for chemical exposures

Our First Aid for Chemical Exposures course combines first aid with chemical hazard awareness. It is aimed at those who work with chemicals or work in an environment where chemicals are handled and would like a better understanding of the type of first aid that can be carried out in the event of a chemical exposure prior to the arrival of medical professionals. It is an obvious add-on for those who are already first aid at work (FAW) qualified.

This course has been designed so that you will be able:

  • Recognise and understand chemical hazards.
  • Interpret the information that accompanies chemicals (such as safety datasheets).
  • Know how chemicals behave when released and so determine the most likely routes of exposure.
  • Understand the effects of chemicals following exposure via ingestion, inhalation and skin/eye contact.
  • Provide generic first aid following exposure by all routes of exposure.
  • Identify chemicals that require specialist first aid treatment.
  • Have the confidence to make a safe response.

Please note that the course will include some hands-on exercises to help develop your skills and understanding.

Date: Wednesday 14 March 2012
The Gemini Building, Harwell
£265 +VAT

To tweet, to tweet, to whom?

You will see invitations in this newsletter inviting you to follow us on Twitter. You may have already clicked on the link and followed us or, if you haven't, you understand what it means. However, if you're not familiar with Twitter, you may be wondering why you should bother. In this article, Bill Atkinson, a relative newbie to Twitter, offers his thoughts on the subject.

There has been a strong recent debate in the media about the merits and risks of social networking in general (as well as Twitter, this includes services like Facebook, LinkedIn etc) and, specifically, in the emergency services community. This was brought to a head during the riots of last summer when social networking was blamed for helping to incite rioters and was named as a source of valuable information, even to the emergency services themselves, on what was happening on the ground. This debate is continuing at a forthcoming free conference on the issue being organised for April (for further details see www.bluelightcamp.org.uk).

In essence, Twitter allows the user to communicate in short messages called tweets (of up to 140 characters). You can choose to read the tweets from others (whom you follow) and pick up followers of your own. Information can then be cascaded by "tweeters" tweeting or re-tweeting (it will be prefixed with the letters RT) to their followers in turn. You can highlight specific topics or words by placing a hashtag in front of them. Topics that feature the most in tweets are said to be "trending". These trending topics are collated by Twitter based on locality (i.e. so you can check trending topics in your own town, country or those trending worldwide).

Organisations can use Twitter to disseminate information quickly and easily, either in bite-sized chunks or by providing links to articles of interest (a URL usually gets shortened to a random series of letters and numbers to save space).

It is our intention at NCEC to use Twitter to disseminate information of interest generated by ourselves, such as announcements about our Hazmat event or new products like Pocket Chemdata for Android, and to forward interesting links from others. So, why not give it a try and come and follow us?

Preparing for emergencies

So, you think you're prepared for an emergency or business disruption

Did you know that 80% of businesses affected by a major incident either never reopen or close within 18 months (AXA, 2006) and that having robust business continuity plans could save you money on insurance premiums (BSI, 2011)?

One of the newer elements of emergency preparedness is business continuity. This field began life as disaster recovery with a focus on IT infrastructure in the financial world. However, since these early days in the 1980s, business continuity has become a vital tool for many industries.

In simple terms, it is planning how to ensure your business can continue if a disruption were to occur. A disruption could range from something minor such as a radiator flooding your office to a major fire destroying your premises.

The plan should consider all aspects of your business (including your IT, staff, suppliers and premises) to find the weaknesses and to identify any single points of failure.

A British Standard for business continuity (BS 25999) was introduced in 2006/07 and provides guidance on best practice. NCEC now has the added capability to support you through the process detailed in BS 25999 and can help you reduce the risk of costly downtime due to disruptions.

At NCEC we provide a range of products and services to help you prepare for disruptions, from a simple review of your current procedures to a complete rewrite or training your staff.

One often overlooked aspect of business continuity and emergency preparedness is the testing of your current systems. We can help you construct a realistic and tailored exercise that will really test your staff and procedures in a safe and constructive environment.

For a chance to win a bottle of champagne complete our quick survey on business continuity.

For more details please contact our emergency response consultant, Ian Goodyer.
E-mail: ncec@ricardo-aea.com Tel: +44 (0) 1235 75 3654.

Emergency telephone numbers on SDSs - do you comply with EU legislation?

Safety data sheets (SDSs) are an integral part of the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH)(1) legislation. Article 31 of the REACH regulations relates to the requirements for SDSs and states that they should be compiled in accordance with Annex II(2). SDSs are also important outside the regulatory world as they represent your company, are informative in the event of a chemical incident and help prevent accidents turning in public relations cataclysm.

Several sections in the revised regulations have caused some discussion as to how to achieve compliance, largely surrounding supplying SDSs in different languages and the use of emergency telephone numbers. We hope to provide a brief analysis of this below to inform you of the situation, ensuring you take the necessary steps to achieve Annex II compliance prior to the December 2012 deadline.

SDS in different languages
Emergency telephone number

If you are unable to meet the requirements above, NCEC can offer you solutions to achieve regulatory compliance. Please contact us for further information.


Emergency Services Show, November 2011

Thanks to everyone who visited our stand at the Emergency Services Show back in November. It was good to see some familiar faces and meet some new ones! We took the opportunity to demonstrate our Pocket Chemdata app for Android devices and had lots of interest and positive comments - particularly from people seeing the Android tablet!

Congratulations to Declan Webb from East Midlands Ambulance Service who won our prize draw from the Emergency Services Show.



Fire at a recycling site

NCEC recently received a call from a HazMat Officer who was dealing with a major fire at a recycling plant where refrigerators, compressed gas cylinders, fluorescent tubes, computers and batteries were processed. The caller required health and environmental impact information about the smoke plume and run-off water.

Our Emergency Responder advised the HazMat Officer that thermal decomposition products were likely to include carbon oxides, nitrogen oxides, halogen-containing compounds, heavy metals including mercury, chromium, lead, arsenic and phosphorus, and their oxides. Our Emergency Responder suggested that the run-off water should be retained where possible and emphasised the risk of pulmonary oedema following exposure to the combustion products, recommending that fire-fighters exposed to the smoke should be monitored for 48 hours.

Instant access to remote specialist advice allows you to concentrate on the job in hand, while our dedicated chemists collate the information and help you protect people, property and the environment.

Advice sought following an explosion

A fire-fighter contacted NCEC for advice on how to extinguish a drum of aluminium phosphide tablets that had exploded and released phosphine gas.

Our Emergency Responder explained that aluminium phosphide is water reactive and that phosphine is corrosive, very toxic and liable to spontaneous ignition. We recommended an exclusion zone of 100 metres in all directions, that neighbouring containers should be cooled with water spray to prevent further explosions, and that the Environment Agency and Health Protection Agency be notified of the incident. Our Emergency Responder suggested a controlled burn or to smother the fire with dry sand. The fire was brought under control with dry sand and CO2 extinguishers.

NCEC's Emergency Responders understand the dangers of hazardous materials and are able to determine the products of reaction, whether that is with fire-fighting media or other chemicals. You can rely on our experience and expertise.

School evacuated

A leak of concentrated sodium hypochlorite solution reacted with a split bag of sodium bisulfate in the plant room of a school swimming pool. The fire service had established a 50-metre cordon around the swimming pool.

Our Emergency Responder advised the HazMat Officer that sodium hypochlorite is a corrosive alkali and that solid sodium bisulfate is irritant and poses a risk of serious damage to eyes. In solution, sodium bisulfate is an acidic corrosive that can react with sodium hypochlorite to produce toxic and corrosive gases. Our Emergency Responder suggested that the school be evacuated due to the hazards posed by the reaction products and recommended the use of gas-tight chemical protective suits with breathing apparatus by fire service personnel. The spilled chemicals were collected and disposed of as hazardous waste, and the area ventilated before the school was reopened.

Incidents involving swimming pool chemicals are commonplace and often result from unsuitable storage of chemicals. NCEC's Emergency Responders are experienced in dealing with incidents of all sizes and work with the statutory bodies to protect the public.



Hazmat 2012 Update

6 to 7 March 2012 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Birmingham

Hazmat 2012

The registration form is available on our website and we would encourage you to book as soon as possible to ensure your place.

We have almost confirmed the final speaker programme and the full programme will be released via our website in the next month. We have a stimulating array of speakers and topics including:

  • Chief Inspector Patricia Foy from the National Policing Improvement Agency speaking on CBRN.
  • Neil Measures from Serious Organised Crime Agency speaking on Illicit Drugs Laboratories.
  • Ken Pink from QinetiQ speaking about Project Ghost and Acetylene incidents.
  • Geert Titulaer from Brandweer Zeeland speaking about the Dutch approach to hazmat incidents.
  • Nick Bailey from Braemar Howells speaking about the Ethylene Oxide Mutual Aid Scheme.
  • Dr. Sc. Koen Desmet, Lieutenant from Stad Antwerpen speaking about a practical case study.

We are also pleased to announce our Media Partner for the 2012 event, Fire Times. We look forward to working with Fire Times to promote the event.

Fire Times is the voice of today's fire and rescue service, and is the leading trade and technical publication in its field.

The editorial content of the magazine reflects the broader role the fire and rescue service has taken on over the past 50 years, beyond its traditional fire-fighting role.

Fire times is the only publication sent free to over 5,000 operational officers, and buyers and specifiers of equipment, services and consumables in today's fire and rescue sector throughout the UK and Europe.

The magazine is required reading for operational fire-fighters with purchasing responsibilities (such as training), communication officers, brigade engineers and hazmat personnel.

Fire Times is the official publication for the Fire and Rescue Suppliers Association, Defence Fire Risk Management Organisation and the Airport Fire Officers Association.

Follow ncec_uk on Twitter

Chemspec Europe

13 to 14 June 2012, Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona will host the 27th Chemspec Europe, which will see over 400 exhibiting companies from around the globe. Over 5,000 people are expected to attend the event.

Still unrivalled as Europe's only dedicated fine and speciality chemicals event, Chemspec Europe is focused on providing delegates access to, and networking opportunities with, blue-chip and small or medium-sized enterprise (SME) suppliers from around the globe.

Visit us on stand B13.

Chemspec Europe


Chemical Spill Response

13 March 2012 -  Gemini Building, Harwell

Chemical Spill Response is a one-day training course that is ideal for those who are considering setting up, or already have, a spill response team in their workplace.

Cost: £265 +VAT

First Aid Following Chemical Exposure

14 March 2012 - Gemini Building, Harwell

Our First Aid for Chemical Exposures course combines first aid with chemical hazard awareness, and is aimed at those who work with chemicals or work in an environment where chemicals are handled.

Cost: £265 +VAT

Hazmat 1st Response

15 March 2012 - Gemini Building, Harwell

Hazmat 1st Response is a one-day training course to prepare you and your organisation for dealing with a chemical incident. The course provides practical and up-to-date information on what is expected of you during a hazmat incident.
Cost: £235 + VAT

For more information about our training courses, please visit our website. To book a place or ask about our tailored and in-house courses, please contact us.

[end of newsletter]



- Another busy year for NCEC
- Pocket Chemdata® for AndroidTM
- 2011.2 Chemdata®
- Chemical spills training gets good response

2. NCEC in action

- Dealing with chemical exposures - are you prepared?
- First aid training for chemical exposures
- To tweet, to tweet, to whom...?

3. Preparing for emergencies

- So, you think you're prepared for an emergency or business disruption
- Emergency telephone numbers on SDSs - do you comply with EU legislation?

4. Out and about

- Emergency Services Show

5. Interesting calls

- Fire at a recycling site
- Advice sought following an explosion
- School evacuated


- Events

- Training