Toxic Materials Training Helps Keep Servicemembers Safe
By Army Sgt. 1st Class Samantha M. Stryker
Special to American Forces Press Service
CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE BASRA, Iraq, Dec. 29, 2009 Twelve soldiers and three sailors conducted a 10-day Toxic Industrial Chemical Protection and Detection Equipment training exercise here recently.
Army Staff Sgt. Timothy Price is scrubbed off as he makes his way through the decontaminating process during a Toxic Industrial Chemical Protection and Detection Equipment training exercise on Contingency Operating Base Basra, Iraq, Dec. 15, 2009. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Samantha M. Stryker
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
“You never know what could pop up,” said Army Capt. Leann Yi, 17th Fires Brigade Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear officer in charge. “In case of any sort of hazardous material, toxic industrial chemical [leak] from a lab or a chemical manufacturing company in our area of responsibility would require the assistance and expertise of this team.”
According to Karen Kirkpatrick, a civilian instructor with the training team, the 80-hour course is the same training received by stateside emergency services personnel.
This type of training usually is provided to military CBRN specialists prior to deployment. However, with the high operational tempo and the limited number of trained CBRN troops, it is sometimes the first time servicemembers receive this training.
Trainees learn to inventory and operate all of the protection and detection equipment. They rehearse the roles each team will play when working in a hazardous material and toxic industrial chemical environment. Trainees first become familiar with operating their protective suits that are equipped with an independent air supply system.
“It was challenging being in the level ‘A’ suit. You have limited dexterity and limited visibility because of the condensation in the mask,” said Army Sgt. 1st Class Michael Blackwood, a CBRN specialist with the 203rd Military Police Battalion.
Less than two days after the completion of training, Yi’s team assisted an explosive ordnance disposal unit with the removal of a missile with 500 pounds of explosives from Basra city.
(Army Sgt. 1st Class Samantha M. Stryker serves with the 17th Fires Brigade public affairs office.)