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    NY Guard Civil Support Team troops conduct exercise on Plum Island, home to animal disease research center

    NY National Guard Civil Support Team Trains at Plum Island

    Photo By Staff Sgt. Harley Jelis | New York National Guard Soldiers and Airmen of the 24th Weapons of Mass Destruction...... read more read more



    Story by Staff Sgt. Michael Davis and Sgt. Harley Jelis

    New York National Guard

    PLUM ISLAND, N.Y. --For some people, taking a helicopter ride around the Statue of Liberty and through the NYC skyline is a fun way to see the Big Apple.

    But for New York Army National Guard Soldiers and Airmen in the 24th Weapons of Mass Destruction Civil Support Team, known as a CST, that was just the ride to work as they conducted an air insertion on a remote island to respond to a simulated containment breach of nerve gas and biological waste.

    Members of the 24th CST, the 106th Rescue Wing, New York State Police, U.S. Health and Human Services, Brookhaven Labs and the Federal Bureau of Investigation responded to a simulated contamination event as part of a joint training operation at the Plum Island Animal Disease Research Facility, New York, and May 2, 2018.

    "Today's exercise was to practice flying out here with a strike team package in order to facilitate quick HAZMAT recovery," said Sgt. Shawn Durst, a chemical operations specialist with the 24th CST.

    National Guard CSTs are trained to identify the presence of chemical, biological, or radiological agents, and then provide advice on the hazard and how to manage it to civil authorities and first responders.

    Headquartered at Fort Hamilton, the Army's New York City military post, the 24th CST is one of two elements in the state manned by members of the New York Army and Air National Guard.

    The 2nd CST is based at Stratton Air National Guard Base near Schenectady.

    Plum Island is home to the Plum Island Animal Disease Center of New York, which specializes in the study of animal diseases. The facility is controlled by the United States Department of Homeland Security Directorate for Science and Technology.

    By design, the participants were given very limited knowledge of the contamination scenario before they departed. This helped test their preparation and forced quick thinking and reactivity when they landed, Durst explained.

    "We flew out, and then when we got on ground we got more information from the incident commander," said Durst. "He wanted us to identify and mitigate several barrels that had tipped over. Our job was to confirm what was in tipped over barrels, go in with an all-hazards approach and bring back samples for further analysis."

    Once on ground, each of the responding forces had their own job to do, but had to work in concert with each other to accomplish the decontamination mission.

    The 24th CST’s main job is to assist the civilian first responders who get overwhelmed with any sort of hazardous material or suspect any weapons of mass destruction, according to Durst.

    This type of real-world training not only helps to familiarize the service members who will be working alongside civilian agencies in an actual event, but allows each organization to streamline how their roles intersect with others.

    "We're here to augment the federal and state assets, and we have to know how we can best suit them from our capabilities,” said Durst. "We get training on a wide array of things: radiation, chemical, biological warfare training, confined space rescue, rope rescue training.”

    For the Soldiers and Airmen of the 24th, sometimes the highlights of working with the civilian and federal agencies is having the opportunity to adapt their military training for domestic situations.

    "The cool thing about this CST program is that you can be working with a ten-man police department that's doing a raid on a meth lab, or you could be assisting the FBI and they have an actual nerve agent and they need our help," said Capt. Robert Freed, the Deputy Commander of the 24th CST.

    “This is exactly how it looks when we have a real-world mission." Freed said.



    Date Taken: 05.02.2018
    Date Posted: 06.07.2018 15:57
    Story ID: 280025
    Location: PLUM ISLAND , NY, US

    Web Views: 602
    Downloads: 0