Guard’s 7th Civil Support Team trains with Jefferson City civilian agencies
By: Matthew J. Wilson/Missouri National Guard Public Affairs
Staff Sgt. Robyn Boatright shows Sgt. Joseph Ramsey how to use a piece of detection equipment during a 7th Civil Support Team joint exercise in Jefferson City. The team works with civilian authorities to thwart terrorist attacks.
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (Jan. 26, 2010) — The 7th Weapons of Mass Destruction Civil Support Team recently participated in joint training with state agencies in Missouri’s capital city.
The 22-person Missouri National Guard unit worked with the Cole County Emergency Response Team at the first responders’ office compound, along with the Jefferson City Special Weapons and Tactics Team, on a series of scenarios that involved responding to chemical and explosive-making labs.
Maj. Jeffrey Ford, the 7th’s deputy commander, Staff Sgt. Yvonne Lugo, the unit’s decontamination noncommissioned officer in charge, and Staff Sgt. Jason Allabaugh, the unit’s medical noncommissioned officer in charge, each put a scenario together for the agencies to work on as a group.
Ford said it was a great opportunity for joint training.
“As a general rule, our philosophy is that we don’t want to show up at a real incident site and that’s the first time that we exchange business cards,” Ford said. “We want to get to know our customers, because that’s really who they are — the first responders, the fire chiefs, the police chiefs and the local emergency planning committee officials. We want to get to know them before we actually have to respond to the real event. We want to know their capabilities and we want them to know our capabilities, so that they know what we can do and what to ask of us when we show up on site.”
The objective for the SWAT team was to clear and secure the area to allow members of the 7th and Cole County to enter the lab rooms safely to evaluate and alleviate any potential hazards. To test SWAT, the rooms included trip wires and booby traps.
“We set the traps out to challenge SWAT, because that’s what bad guys do,” Allabugh said. “When I went through the Missouri Highway Patrol’s meth course, they emphasized how criminals use various booby traps to injure law enforcement personnel.
“SWAT progressively did an outstanding job with discovering tripwires, which can be difficult in full protective gear.”
Also as part of the training, a member of SWAT went down with an “injury” during one of the room clearings. His SWAT teammates responded by getting him to the 7th’s decontamination line where members of the Guard unit “cleaned” him to make sure he wasn’t tainted by chemicals and performed first aid. Lugo said this type of training was important in case the agencies ever worked together during a real-world event.
“They need to know what our procedures are on the decontamination line,” Lugo said. “That way, no one has to sit there and ask 50 questions.”
“I think they got a lot out of it. They need to see the equipment we use and vice versa. The equipment we all use is basically the same. It’s just much easier and faster to work together with each other’s equipment instead of setting up two or three different decontamination lines for each entity,” added Lugo.
After the rooms were cleared, the 7th used the training opportunity to get some work in for three of its newest reconnaissance members, two who have been with the team less than two weeks.
Staff Sgt. Robyn Boatright, a recon team chief who was the acting recon noncommissioned officer in charge, led the training for the three Guardsmen, who all have previously been in a Guard chemical unit.
“The training allowed them to see the differences between a regular chemical unit and a civil support team,” Boatright said. “We are kind of in a crawl phase, so it gave them a chance to learn and see how we come into play in the event of a real terrorist attack.”
Normally the reconnaissance team would work in level A, B or C Hazmat suits, but to help familiarize the new members, the team worked solely with M-40 masks and no suits.
“The exercise was valuable in the sense that I’ve been in the Chemical Corps for four years, but have never been able to use any of my training or knowledge practically in the field,” said Sgt. Kyle Weber, one of the new reconnaissance members. “It made me see how little I know about the chemical field, but it opened my eyes to a new aspect of what can be accomplished with a chemical military occupation specialty.”