News: 84th Civil Support Team always on call, always ready
Story by 1st Lt. Megan Hoffmann
CHEYENNE, Wyo. - At 1 a.m., most of the population of the state of Wyoming finds themselves in the middle of their REM cycle - sound asleep and completely carefree. Maj. Christopher Troesh, commander of the 84th Civil Support Team (CST), doesn't have the luxury of being carefree, and he has little familiarity with a REM cycle as he rarely gets enough sleep to experience it.
In the early morning hours June 22, Troesh received a call from the Laramie Fire Department detailing the events that caused a chemical fire in a chemical storage facility located in close proximity to the Laramie High School. Although the Laramie Fire Department was able to contain the fire, they were not trained to identify and assess the chemicals present in such an incident - however, those employed by the CST are.
Troesh gathered all the required information from the Laramie Fire Department, made the necessary phone calls, gathered his personnel, and within 30 minutes they were out the door. Soon they were I-80 bound to assist with civilian support of an incident that had the possibility to injure or kill people within a hundred meters if not handled properly.
For the members of the 84th CST, based in Cheyenne, Wyo., this type of incident is considered routine.
They house 22 full-time personnel from both Army and Air branches of the military, all of whom are hazardous material (HAZMAT) certified and possess anywhere from 600 to 1,800 hours of specialized training in order to acquire their qualifications.
The staff combine to hold more than 15 different military specialties and are on call 24 hours a day to put their expertise to use as they are keenly aware that the safety and security of Wyoming citizens, should an incident occur, may lie in their hands.
"We are truly unique ... our team of Army and Air Guard members work side-by-side with our first responders and agencies to provide help to people in need. Our small team is able to handle extremely complex missions during an all hazard response to help the people of Wyoming," said 1st Sgt. Steven Stoughton, 84th CST first sergeant.
It may surprise Wyoming citizens to hear that the Laramie chemical fire incident isn't the first episode that the CST has responded to locally.
Within the last four months, the 84th CST has also responded to a suspected bio-threat, commonly referred to as a "white powder incident," against the mayor of Cheyenne, an explosives spill on I-25 that contained over 2,800 gallons of mixed chemicals that could cause a catastrophic explosion, and to wildfires in Colorado to facilitate communications between the unified command suite and support aircraft. Each incident was resolved without major injury to people or damage to property.
"I feel that we are in a position to truly help not just our community, but all the citizens of the United States. The 84th CST is deeply integrated with community and emergency personnel. Virtually every mission we do is a joint operation with some other task force and we manage to run these missions seamlessly," said Sgt. Stanley Boulden, 84th CST survey team member.
The CST strives to support civil authorities at domestic chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear (CBRN) incident sites by identifying CBRN agents and substances present, assessing their consequences, advising response measures, and assisting with support of those measures. The mission is an extensive one that has been tried and tested over the past several months in Wyoming, and proven reliable and lifesaving.
"The CST also supports civil authorities during times of natural or manmade disasters that result, or could result, in the catastrophic loss of life or property," said Troesh. "We possess the ability to rapidly deploy to anywhere in the state of Wyoming in less than eight hours, or around the nation if called to do so. We have provided support for events ranging from Cheyenne Frontier Days, to clean-up and restoration efforts after Hurricane Ike."
The CST also has the capabilities to perform mobile laboratory analysis, provide secure voice and data communications, administer emergency medical treatment, and decontaminate hazardous sites.
In other words, they are a one-stop shop for lending assistance during disasters in the state of Wyoming, and across the nation, should they occur. They are always on call, always ready, and always responsive to Wyoming and to the nation.