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Successful exercise helps Missouri Guard’s 7th Civil Support Team work with civilian first responders
Successful exercise helps Missouri Guard’s 7th Civil Support Team work with civilian first responders

Missouri National Guard Staff Sgt. Jason Allabaugh applies an oxygen mask to Sgt. Joe Ramsey, who played the role of an injured team member during a 7th Civil Support Team and civilian first-responder training exercise in Waynesville.
WAYNESVILLE, Mo. (March 6, 2010) — Valuable training and multiagency coordination in response to a simulated terrorist threat occurred Wednesday and Thursday during a joint exercise put on by the Missouri National Guard’s 7th Weapons of Mass Destruction Civil Support Team at the old Waynesville Technical Academy.

“It was a very successful outcome,” said 1st Lt. Nathan Looper, the team’s medical operations officer and the exercise’s creator. “Even though everything didn’t go as scripted, all the agencies involved received much-needed training.”

Soldiers and airmen on civil support teams often train closely with their civilian first-responder counterpartsto prepare for real-world emergencies. The 7th Civil Support Team from Fort Leonard Wood engages in an exercise with a civilian agency within the state around once a month.

Six civilian agencies joined the 7th in the exercise, including the Waynesville Police Department, Waynesville Rural Fire Protection District, St. Robert Fire Department, Pulaski County Sherriff’s Department, Pulaski County 911, and Camden County Special Response Team.

Overall, Looper said the exercise received very positive feedback from the civilian responders.

“The civilian agencies already were asking what we could do in the future to expand on the joint training,” he said.

An estimated 100 first-responders were involved in the exercise.

The exercise began Wednesday evening with a traffic stop by the Waynesville Police Department in Waynesville, simulated at 4 p.m., which involved an officer-related shooting. Two other suspects fled — one was captured by the Waynesville Police Department canine, Oxx, and the other fled to refuge inside the technical academy.

Waynesville firefighters responded to provide medical treatment, but were overcome by simulated chemical fumes. The St. Robert Fire Department Hazmat team and the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Department’s Special Response Team were then called in to assess the situation. The special response team provided perimeter security and requested the Camden County Special Response Team to respond to make entry into the academy to apprehend the fugitive.

Camden County located the suspect in a room that contained a laboratory that appeared to be making a dangerous chemical agent. The exercise was put on pause until Thursday morning, when the 7th Civil Support Team was asked to respond so the team could identify the chemical agent and make recommendations on the best way to prevent its release.

“This is why we train together,” said Looper, who lives in Waynesville. “With the complexity of the joint operations, it’s crucial that we’ve all trained and practiced together to prevent chaos in the event of a real-world emergency.”

The entire 7th Civil Support Team used the exercise to prepare for its upcoming pre-external evaluation, one of two exercises that ready the team for its external evaluation that must be completed once every 18 months. Thursday’s exercise was especially important to the team’s three new reconnaissance members, who trained with the team on air inside their encapsulated Hazmat suits for the first time.

“The training was very beneficial because it gave our three new troops a chance to see how we actually fit in to a response with civilian agencies,” said Staff Sgt. Robyn Boatright, the unit’s senior reconnaissance team chief. “It also allowed the new team members the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the monitoring equipment and completing their mission in their suits.”

Boatright said getting used to working in the suit is challenging.

“It’s a lot of mind-over-matter,” said Boatright, who lives in Success. “You’ve got to realize that you are confined to a suit and you’re breathing from an air tank and not out in the open. Overall, it was very good training for them to be on air for the first time and should prepare them for the upcoming evaluations. I think we are going to be better prepared.”

So far, Boatright said she’s pleased with the progress of the new team members, who haven’t yet completed their military occupational specialty training.

“They are very good noncommissioned officers and take charge,” Boatright said. “They have a good head on their shoulders and aren’t afraid to jump in and help or share their ideas.”

Part of the training revolved around how the team should react if a member of recon went down with an illness or injury while conducting their mission. Sgt. Joe Ramsey, one of the newest recon members, played the part of the injured soldier.

“It was unexpected, but good for the medical section to be able to react to a man down,” Ramsey said.

Despite not having to react himself, Ramsey, who lives in Rolla, received some first-hand experience on some of the dos and don’ts of rescue.

“Picking someone up in the suit would probably be hard,” Ramsey said. “I think it is a good thing to practice. You don’t want to drop your buddy.”

The unit’s physician assistant, Capt. Jean Le Gall, was pleased with how the training in the man-down scenario went.

“It was a good learning experience to determine what we need to improve and to highlight what we’re doing well,” said Le Gall, who lives in Waynesville.

Le Gall said it is important to train for a man-down, not only because it will be part of their future evaluation, but it could happen during any real-world event.

“In real life situations, if something happens, the quicker and safer you bring that patient to the medical section, the greater the chance of survival on that person,” Le Gall said. “The longer you wait, the more the odds are against him to survive.”

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