Marine Corps and Illinois response units train for chemical/biological emergencies

31 Jul 2018 | Cpl. Julien Rodarte The Official United States Marine Corps Public Website

Marines and sailors with Chemical Biological Incident Response Force participated in Exercise Chicago Response in Chicago, Illinois July 24-26, 2018. 

The fast-paced exercise, facilitated by the Illinois Fire Service Institute, provided CBIRF Marines an opportunity to work closely with Chicago and Illinois local first responder units and learn from them to prepare for possible emergencies.

“We trade tactics, techniques, and procedures, should we ever have to respond, we know how we are going to work alongside these local first responders,” said Capt. Jordan Fox, Initial Response Force Commander.

During the event, and Initial Response Force-sized element, consisting of nearly 100 Marines and sailors, were tasked with providing humanitarian assistance to simulated survivors of an earthquake. Marines in the unit were presented with situations they don’t normally train for, testing the versatility inherent within the unit.

“We specifically chose this region because Illinois is one of four regions that fall within the New Madrid seismic zone and Chicago provides an infrastructure that can facilitate our response,” said Bob Novak, exercise design and operational support.

It is estimated that there could be over 80,000 casualties and 7 million people displaced, if the zone were to erupt. If requested through the Defense Support to Civil Authorities procedures, the CBIRF mission would be to help mitigate these statistics with their response efforts.
“Should the zone ever erupt the Marines are ready to respond,” said Fox. “The nation can count on us to support local response to save lives, mitigate human suffering and contribute to the community recovery efforts.”

During the event, injections to the scenario, including crisis actors and chemical agents, were implemented to offset the operating capabilities of CBIRF and cause distress to the unit but with the help of local emergency response the Marines proved how useful their efforts could be.

“We’re grateful to train alongside our local and state partners,” said Fox. “The Marines are going to take what they learned here today back with us to increase our capabilities so that should we ever need to come back to respond the Marines will be ready.”
The unit proved they were more than capable with handling less familiar territory, and can go back to their unit knowing they are prepared for any future emergency. 

“I think this exercise is important to the American people because it shows, as we have in the past and as we will continue to do, that the Marine Corps has their back,” said Novak. “That’s what we’re here for.”