CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. --
The Camp Pendleton Fire Department, the San Diego County Environmental Health Department and the U.S. Army’s 9th Civil Support Team conducted a hazardous materials exercise at the Paige Fieldhouse here, June 15.
The exercise was conducted in conjunction with Semper Durus, a full-scale base Force Protection exercise from June 15 – 19. Semper Durus is a regional command post exercise and is comprised of a series of field training scenarios designed to improve regional command and control, enhance interagency coordination, and improve installation capabilities to respond to, and recover from, a crisis event and validate the installation mission assurance all-hazard plan.
The HAZMAT team participated in a scenario involving smallpox infected towels being delivered to the Paige Fieldhouse. The team set up HAZMAT equipment, inspected the infected towels, tested the samples and retrieved them.
“The hazardous materials exercise has many detailed functions and skillsets required from the individual participants,” said Tom Kircher, regional Chemical Biological Radiological Nuclear Explosives protection officer. “The teams learn by doing and become proficient through practical application.”
The HAZMAT team was composed of specialists from both the CPFD and the San Diego County Environmental Health Department.
“It’s important to go through every step together with the other agencies involved,” said Bryan Miller hazardous materials group supervisor with the CPFD. “It increases the interoperability between our groups and increases our readiness in the event that an actual incident occurs.”
They were equipped with Level B Protection, which protects against splashes from hazardous chemicals, as well as respiratory equipment and gas monitors.
They brought the samples to a mobile laboratory provided by the 9th CST for analysis and on-site confirmation. Soldiers with the 9th CST team then provided a recommended course of action to the incident commander.
“We need to be prepared for any event that happens and we can only do that by learning each other’s capabilities,” said 1st Lt. Keith Hapenney, officer-in-charge with the mobile laboratory, 9th CST. “This provides a framework of interoperability and allows us to react more quickly during incidents.”