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Center for Public Health Preparedness

HazMat Transportation Incidents: Using the Emergency Response Guidebook

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The Emergency Response Guidebook* (ERG2008) is a tool for first responders to use during the initial phase of a transportation incident involving hazardous materials. It is intended for firefighters, police, and other emergency services personnel who may be the first to arrive at the scene of the incident. It is primarily designed to aid first responders in (1) quickly identifying the specific or generic classification of the material(s) involved in the incident and (2) protecting themselves and the general public during this initial response phase of the incident.

By using the ERG, public health workers will become more aware of the hazardous materials being used in or transported through their communities. This should make them better able to prepare their local health department's response plan for an appropriate response. By becoming familiar with the ERG, public health professionals will also be more knowledgeable in talking to other first responders.

NOTE: You will need a copy of the Emergency Response Guidebook (ERG2008) to take this course. Your local Emergency Management Office will generally have copies available. The ERG is available to download from the Department of Transportation website (opens new window). You can also buy a copy on Amazon (opens new window).


The primary audience is bioterrorism coordinators, environmental health staff, and other public health staff who might be involved in emergency response. This course could also be used to train other first responders such as EMS and firefighters.


After completing this course, you will be able to:

  • Describe the purpose of the Emergency Response Guidebook (ERG).
  • Use the ERG to identify hazardous materials.
  • Use the ERG to determine the potential hazards, public safety issues and emergency response steps for particular hazardous material.


Originally launched January, 2007 and was updated February 2009.

Technical Requirements

This course is built to XHTML 1.1 specifications. A modern web browser such as Microsoft Internet Explorer or Mozilla Firefox is required to view the pages.


Estimated time is 1 hour


Free and open to the public


The course was created by Cheryl Reeves, Associate Director for Instructional Development, at the University at Albany's Center for Public Health Preparedness.


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