MARINE CORPS AIR STATION MIRAMAR, Calif. – An old, run down building filled with hazardous chemicals begins to leak as the morning sun rises over the mountain scape. MCAS Miramar Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting, Explosive Ordnance Disposal and Hazardous Material teams are called to the site. As the teams prepare to decontaminate the building an IED is discovered.
This was the scenario as ARFF, EOD and air station firefighters conducted this rare joint training.
Chemicals used to make meth-amphetamine could be extremely dangerous and could have negative effects on the health of whoever comes into contact with them. The chemicals have to be tested and disposed of properly to ensure the scene is safe for an investigation to be conducted. Also, the scene has to be thoroughly inspected to ensure there are no hazards that would hinder the agencies from continuing on to an investigation. During the training exercise Marines and firefighters geared up to prepare for hazardous material.
In situations involving IEDs, the EOD robot is the first to go in, explained Staff Sgt. Joshua Summers, an explosive ordnance technician with EOD and a Honolulu native.
“We use the robot to do reconnaissance, to help first responders and keep our men safe.”
EOD Marines remotely controlled the four camera robots to the sight.
In a combination effort of the robot and a Marine wearing a bomb suit, EOD was able to successfully remove the IED and secure the building.
Although each agency has hazardous material training, the Hazardous Material Team members are the experts. They share their knowledge with the other agencies and give tips on how to sample each chemical safely and in a more efficient manner.
Members of the hazardous material team instructed ARFF Marines on how to lay out decontamination pools and how to sample chemicals without cross-contamination or contamination of clean surfaces.
In the mock laboratory actual chemicals where used to make it as real as possible for the Marines training.
The enemy is trading in bullets and bombs for everyday chemicals, but with training like this Marines can be prepared for everything, explained Sgt. Jeson Coleman, a Hazardous Material Response Chief with ARFF and a Cleveland native.
Training exercises like this one do not happen often. It is challenging for Marines and firefighters to work together with different chains of command however, training like this ensures an orderly mission when emergencies arise.
Each agency has its own skill set to support each other. Working together ensures the safety of the installation and those who work to keep it secure.