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    The 11th Civil Support Team trains with radioactive material during Vigilant Guard 2016

    11th Civil Support Team trains with radioactive material

    Photo By 2nd Lt. Chelsea Clark | U.S. Army Sgt. Jhustin Welch, 11th Civil Support Team, Maine National Guard, utilizes...... read more read more



    Story by Staff Sgt. Chelsea Clark 

    158th Fighter Wing

    A Strike Force Team from the 11th Civil Support Team (CST) out of Waterville, Maine was called into action as part of Vigilant Guard 2016 at Camp Johnson in Colchester, Vt. on July 27, 2016. The National Guard members responded to a radiological source requiring location and identification. The team mitigated the threat and secured the scene as part of national level emergency response exercise.

    Vigilant Guard exercises provide the opportunity for the National Guard to improve cooperation and relationships with regional civilian, military, and federal partners in preparation for emergencies and catastrophic events. The National Guard and NORTHCOM generate strategic training events to develop and assess capabilities of response organizations in the protection, response and recovery actions of a statewide emergency.

    There are a multitude of emergency scenarios being evaluated during Vigilant Guard 2016 including cyber security, natural disaster, logistics and supply chain management, emergency medical services and chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear (CBRN) threats. The CST is activated when a potential threat is reported, and in this situation, the team responded to a potential CBRN radiation exposure.

    Once on scene, the team assessed the situation and chose the best course of action. Their responsibility was to locate, identify and mitigate the source if possible.

    “There was an unknown radiological source somewhere within the tunnel system, we knew one point of entry, so we geared up and we made entry,” remarks U. S. Army Sergeant Justin Scott, 11th CST Survey Team member, Maine National Guard, about arriving on scene.

    The team wore their protective suits and masks to recon the area, and monitored for any type of radiation source. None were found and they continued their process through the tunnel system. Once the team reached the second open bay, they received readings on their equipment and found the source of radiation. The team reported a positive identification of Cobalt-60 findings to their team chief and egressed from the tunnels. The exercise was completed when no additional radiation (RAD) sources were found.

    “We are responsible for CBRN and explosives. Our job is to go in to areas where there might be potential harm,” explains Scott, “We are there to monitor with our equipment before the problem actually happens, and if the something does occur, we have the capabilities to mitigate the problem. That’s what our unit does on a daily basis, that’s what we are here for, that’s what we respond to.”

    Continuous training allows the rapid response of the CST, a highly deployable unit that is prepared to react within one hour of receiving a request action. Each unit is responsible for their state and assists the local region when necessary, such as with Vigilant Guard 2016. The unit will train missions on a rotating schedule as well as joint operations and individual training exercises within the U.S. and its territories. Each CST is similarly structured where other state CST members can be interchanged during an exercise or real world event.

    “We also work the FBI quite frequently, other CSTs of course, and in Maine we have Regional Response Teams which are basically Fire Department HAZMAT teams that are located in certain strategic areas throughout the state,” said U.S. Army Sergeant Jhustin Welch, a survey team member with the 11th CST, Maine National Guard. “In this exercise, DOE (Department of Energy) came out with their RAD sources, and we work with the Coast Guard as an Active Duty element in Maine."

    Exercising missions with other response units increases communications and relationships between organizations. It organizes a level of preparedness in the need of a crisis response. The 11th CST Strike Force Team was able to assess and control the situation as presented and accomplish the mission.



    Date Taken: 07.27.2016
    Date Posted: 07.28.2016 12:30
    Story ID: 205336
    Location: CAMP JOHNSON, VT, US 

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