CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. --
Armed with unwavering confidence and the latest training, Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton emergency service professionals stand ready to counteract any danger — including hazards not visible to the naked eye.
When disaster strikes, MCB Camp Pendleton's Fire Department, Provost Marshal's Office, and Explosive Ordnance Disposal section assemble a team of first responders with a single mission: safeguard all base personnel, property, and the surrounding environment.
On Dec. 6, 2022, this contingency response force exercised a Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear training event to strengthen performance further, shorten response times, and enhance teamwork and communication capabilities.
To command and control immediate actions, MCB Camp Pendleton’s G-3/5 Operations, Training and Plans established its Emergency Operations Center and Crisis Action Team comprised of representatives from all staff sections to receive real-time information and direct efforts to mitigate threats.
“Our purpose is to advise the commander and give him the ability to make a decision. Once we activate, we create a battle rhythm to prepare, plan, mitigate, respond and act”, said Kyle Claybaugh, operations officer and Senior Watch Officer for the EOC. “The initial report of an incident is what the EOC is looking for…once we gain situational awareness on what is happening, we can provide our commander enough information to make a decision and open our emergency operations.”
"I can confidently say that the base is ready to face improvised threats… We train year-round for this, in realistic environments and situations." Staff Sgt. Joshua Martinez, an explosive ordnance disposal technician
This training exercise was centered around a contingency scenario that required all aspects of MCB Camp Pendleton’s emergency response capabilities, explicitly focusing on immediate threat response. At the onset of the exercise, the MCB Camp Pendleton Fire Department was the first to arrive on the scene, followed by representatives from Explosive Ordnance Disposal and the Provost Marshal's Office.
"We would be the first agency notified if they were to find a suspicious package," said Chief Ryan Rushing, a division chief with the MCB Camp Pendleton Fire Department.
Quickly arriving at the scene, Rushing was ready to observe how his team of four personnel handled the situation. He emphasized the importance of smoothing operations out while in a simulated environment.
"Working with EOD and PMO to coordinate a response… it's best to do that in training, so in a real-life event, it's not the first time you're working together. That way, we have an idea of what others will do so we can support them."
All units staged their vehicles at a safe distance from the reported threat and worked to quickly gather facts and establish a holistic picture of the situation that would drive their subsequent actions. Lt. Gabriel Flores, a watch commander with the Provost Marshal's Office, Security and Emergency Services Battalion, MCB Camp Pendleton, immediately began taking notes upon arrival. In an emergency, PMO is responsible for law enforcement and physical security, which starts with assessing the threat.
As EOD personnel briefed Flores, firefighters began setting up a Hazardous Materials Management decontamination pool. The HAZMAT decontamination pool consisted of a series of stations in which personnel exposed to hazardous material had their clothing and gear sprayed and scrubbed.
Photo by Cpl. Angela Wilcox
Derrick Pursglove, a firefighter with Camp Pendleton Fire Department, Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, participates in a Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear training event on Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California, Dec. 06, 2022. The CBRN training was conducted in order to strengthen interoperability between Camp Pendleton first responders. Pursglove is a native of San Diego, California.
Gunnery Sgt. Jeffrey Bright Jr., an explosive ordnance disposal technician with Headquarters and Service Company, Headquarters and Support Battalion, MCB Camp Pendleton was the first to return from investigating the hazardous materials. As he approached the decontamination pool, firefighters gave him verbal instructions on how to proceed.
Simulating a real-world scenario, Bright Jr. exited the decontamination pool, soaking wet but safely free from dangerous particles.
"Everyone has their role in solving complex CBRN situations," said Staff Sgt. Joshua Martinez, an explosive ordnance disposal technician working alongside Bright Jr.
"In a situation like this, teamwork is going to be paramount. There need to be lines of communication relaying critical information at all times. Everyone has their task, whether it be security, technical advice, decontamination, or medical response."
The training concluded with all personnel gathering to debrief their performance. The EOC and CAT subsequently notified Marine Corps Installation-Command and Headquarters Marine Corps Operations center to deactivate. Then, the operations center immediately executed five after-action reports that covered command-level topics such as effective resource management, personnel allocation, communication efforts and overall successes.
With an emphasis on the importance of interoperability between teams, first responders also received feedback on their efforts.
Martinez expressed pride in the capability of his team.
"I can confidently say that the base is ready to face improvised threats… We train year-round for this, in realistic environments and situations."
The safety of all personnel living and working aboard MCB Camp Pendleton is of the utmost importance. As such, the installation’s emergency response teams work tirelessly to ensure maximum readiness in the event of any disaster. Marines operate day and night aboard the Corps' largest West Coast expeditionary training facility, conducting critical exercises in preparation for the call of duty.
Thanks to the various first responder agencies assigned to protect the well-being of our Marines, they can continue to serve confidently.