Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Kansas National Guard members demonstrate CBRN skills during Vibrant Response 13 training exercise

By Army Sgt. Terence Ewings, U.S. Army

MUSCATATUCK URBAN TRAINING CENTER, Ind. - Kansas Army and Air National Guard members assigned to the 73rd Civil Support Team - Weapons of Mass Destruction - conducted a decontamination training exercise as part of Vibrant Response 13 here, Monday.

As chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear response team specialists, the 73rd CST service members were responsible for identifying, assessing, assisting and providing CBRN information to their incident commander as part of Joint Task Force Civil Support.

“After almost two full-days of training, this has exceeded our expectations as an excellent training venue,” said Lt. Col. Dirk Christian, commander of the civil support team. “The unit completed a lot of collective training events preparing for the Vibrant Response exercise, and it’s all really starting to pay-off.”

During the exercise, Christian’s team was responsible for identifying possible hazardous contaminants in three separate facilities around the training center. Once contaminants were identified the chemical specialists were responsible for assessing the situation and evacuated civilians in the immediate area.

This is 73rd CST’s first rotation and is the second Kansas National Guard unit to participate in the Vibrant Response exercise.

In the event of a man-made or natural disaster in country, the 73rd CST stands ready to implement their CBRN skills to support civil authorities.

“While we’re downrange conducting operations, 40 minutes that we spend downrange could save 40 people or it could save 40,000 people,” said Christian, emphasizing the importance of his CBRN first responders and reporting the information up to the incident commander.

Army Sgt. Claude Williams, one of the first responders assigned to the 73rd CST, is responsible for entering the facilities with possible contaminants, identifying the contaminants and finding any injured personnel within the area who may need assistance.

“We have a lot of talent on our team, and just like any team you have star players that shine and bring their A-game; Williams is one of those people,” Christian said.

After assessing the overall situation during the training venue, Williams reported back the information that he collected, so other teams could go through the area to prevent the spread of the hazardous contaminants and evacuate the civilians.

Using the information received by Williams, the team was able to quickly and efficiently navigate through the buildings and rescue the role-players and mannequins, posing as injured civilians, during the exercise.

“I’m very proud to be a part of this team; it’s really an amazing feeling,” he said.

Williams, who comes from a long-line of family members who served in the Kansas National Guard, believes the 73rd CST is more than ready to support the American people in the event of an actual disaster in country.

“It’s really an amazing experience to see what would happen if something like this were to occur,” said Williams. “I know a lot of people are afraid of things like this, and it makes me really proud to say if something like this ever happened it would be partly my responsibility to help fix it.”

The 73rd CST will continue to support JTF-CS while conducting the Vibrant Response exercise, which is schedule to end later this month.