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    Base personnel on Okinawa train to respond to hazardous material situations

    Base Personnel on Okinawa Train to Respond to Hazardous Material Situations

    Photo By Chief Warrant Officer Bobby Yarbrough | Lance Cpl. James Jackson, with the Camp Courtney Provost Marshal's Office, is...... read more read more

    The Marines, dressed in encapsulated suits, uncovered simulated toxic chemicals and biologic waste. Each member knew it was their job to assess and process the potential threats.

    They carefully moved between the hazard, making a record of each substance. With their oxygen tanks nearing empty, the team made their way out of the room, knowing their mission was a success.

    The realistic exercise on Camp Foster was the final test for 23 service members and civilians participating in the Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response training that took place March 16-20.

    Members of the Coast Guard's National Strike Force, Pacific Strike Team conduct the yearly exercise to ensure personnel on Okinawa are prepared to respond to chemical spills or leaks.

    According to Coast Guard Petty Officer 1st Class Jeremy Thomas, an instructor with the Pacific Strike Team, the overall mission of the training was to establish a supplemental force capable of assisting with emergency response.

    "We want to ensure every student leaves here with the knowledge to assist in real-world situations," Thomas said.

    The exercise was the culmination of a five-day course where instructors taught 40-hours on the correct usage of personal protective equipment, hazardous materials laws and regulations, physical characteristics of chemicals and decontamination practices.

    Thomas said hazardous materials' training is very important for personnel on military bases.

    "The military community is an ideal environment for hazardous material operations," said Thomas. "Almost every job in the military deals with some sort of chemicals, from motor fluids to aviation fuel."

    The real-world scenario tested the students' ability to respond to an emergency situation and deal with a hazardous materials incident. For the instructors, the test ensures students are prepared to handle any situation.

    "It is important they understand they have all the information and tools necessary to deal with spills and leaks," Thomas said. "Practical application provides the students an opportunity to apply the knowledge they learned throughout the course."

    For Lance Cpl. James Jackson, military policemen with Camp Courtney's Provost Marshal's Office, the training taught him how to conduct proper assessments of hazards and react to his evaluation.

    "During the exercise, we were responsible for conducting the site survey," said Jackson. "We used the information we learned during the course to evaluate the hazards and made recommendations on how to fix the problem."

    In the end, Thomas said the training has prepared each student to handle a possible future emergency.

    "Although most students will never be asked to use it, we want them to be prepared in case the need ever rises," Thomas said.



    Date Taken: 03.27.2009
    Date Posted: 03.26.2009 20:46
    Story ID: 31665

    Web Views: 247
    Downloads: 167