Hands-on training aids protection from hazardous materials

| June 4, 2010 | 0 Comments

Story and Photo by
Spc. Jazz Burney
3rd Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs, 25th Infantry Division

Soldiers who belong to the 25th Infantry Division, 8th Theater Sustainment Command and 71st Chemical Company, who fully dressed in mission oriented protective posture suits, discuss information gathered concerning possible hazardous material in the air, during a three-week classroom and hands-on training course.SCHOFIELD BARRACKS — In the 1995 movie “Outbreak,” areas of the U.S. were fictionally exposed to a deadly Ebola virus, which had been released in the air. 

In the movie, scientists and Soldiers, fully dressed in protective chemical suits, saved a large portion of the human population by using knowledge of hazardous materials.

While wearing similar blue mission-oriented protective posture, or MOPP gear, 37 Soldiers from the 25th Infantry Division, 8th Theater Sustainment Command, 71st Chemical Company, and the 766th Explosive Ordnance Disposal Company received hands-on and classroom instruction on handling current basic hazardous material during a three-week training course, May 14-26. 

During the course, Soldiers were required to take five computer-based tests and maintain a 70-percent grade average to become certified. 

After completing the course, the Soldiers received three levels of Department of Defense certification: awareness, operations and a technician’s certification.

After the classroom instruction, Soldiers moved outside to confront chemical field problems. 

The Soldiers learned how wind direction matters in the reconnaissance of an area with potentially hazardous chemical materials. 

Wind can produce an additional problem due to an agent potentially being carried and spread in a gust of air, according to Michael Reed, an instructor with the Incident Response Training Department, 3rd Chemical Brigade.

Soldiers were outfitted with a piece of equipment known as an “identifinder,” which gave the ability to recognize any unknown chemical in the air. 

Once identified the location became a “hot zone,” an area contaminated by hazardous materials.

Different chemical suits are used based on the type of hazardous agents. 

Once the material is properly identified, Soldiers check a hazardous material book, which selects the suit that will provide the proper level of protection for the body. 

Also, Soldiers wear throat microphones to communicate and oxygen masks to breath. 

Three subsequent level suits provide lesser protection based upon the agent, according to 2nd Lt. Timothy Degiuli, a platoon leader with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 25th Special Troops Battalion, 25th ID.

Once inside the MOPP suit, however, protection from a deadly chemical outside the suit is not the only danger presented.

“There are many different challenging factors Soldiers experience inside the suit, such as getting tired from the heat and sweating, and running out of air,” said Degiuli. 

“This frustration can cause the Soldier to not focus on a chemical or the task at hand. 

With additional training, these Soldiers will be able to maintain their focus and remove hazardous agents, regardless,” Degiuli added.

Soldiers overcame the rigors of the training with the difficulties of being inside the suits. 

“You never know when these skills will have to be applied in real time,” said Spc. Asibaya Young, chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear noncommissioned officer with Company B, 325th Brigade Support Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 25th ID.

“That’s why it is important to get acclimated to the suits, so that when the situation calls for action, you won’t panic and your mind will be set on accomplishing the mission and expedite the removal of dangerous chemical materials,” Young added.

The training is the first hands-on hazardous material training the Bronco Brigade will undergo in preparation for its Afghanistan deployment slated for next spring.

Category: News, Training

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