By Cpl. Alissa Schuning, Marine Corps Air Station Miramar
MARINE CORPS AIR STATION MIRAMAR, Calif. --
The Provost Marshal’s Office, Marine Corps Air Station Miramar Fire Department, Explosive Ordnance Disposal, and Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting participated in a Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and High-Yield Explosives exercise at the gas chamber aboard MCAS Miramar, California, May 18, 2016.
The exercise revolved around the responding units identifying and eliminating the threat of a simulated clandestine drug lab.
The scenario began with police officers from PMO responding to a call about a suspicious person in a gas mask. The police officers apprehended the suspect and requested assistance from the Fire Department, ARFF and EOD.
Once all of the first responders arrived, they had to communicate and coordinate on-site operations using the Incident Command System, which is a standardized on-scene incident management concept designed to synchronize individual units as they work.
“The scenario we ran through today wasn’t an active threat scenario,” said Mark Manring, CBRNE protection officer for MCAS Miramar. “Due to the fact that there was no danger of [hazardous materials] infecting people or other buildings, the responding units still had to react quickly but they could take more time setting up and communicating with each other to proceed in the safest way possible.”
To make the exercise as realistic as possible, the personnel conducting the training used live CS gas inside the gas chamber to ensure the responding units knew how to properly use all of their equipment.
The Fire Department set-up and manned the decontamination station to decon anyone who went into the contaminated area.
Explosive Ordnance Disposal’s job was to ensure the hazardous area presented no bomb threat and then ARFF followed with their HAZMAT team to identify and neutralize any possible threat.
According to Manring, although the exercise allowed units to test their HAZMAT training, the main purpose of the training was to ensure the multiple units knew how to successfully work together during an emergency.
“We train to this because we’ve got to train to what can happen in the real world,” said Manring. “It made sure EOD, ARFF and the fire department knew how to work together. Now, if a similar situation should arise, all these units should know what each one brings to the table and how to best utilize each other’s skills to deal with potential threats.”