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    Michigan CST responds to floods, POTUS visit, and COVID-19

    Michigan CST responds to floods, POTUS visit, and COVID-19

    Photo By Master Sgt. David Eichaker | The 51st Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) Civil Support Team (CST), Michigan National...... read more read more



    Story by Master Sgt. David Eichaker 

    Michigan National Guard

    LANSING, Mich.—Michigan National Guard’s Civil Support Team (CST) has faced a trilogy of events in the recent weeks as they expanded their resources to respond to simultaneous mission demands. From COVID-19, to floods, to a presidential visit, the 51st Civil Support Team has answered the state’s call.

    “In one week, the 51st Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) CST has supported the COVID-19 response with scientists at the state lab, the President of the United States (POTUS) visit with an on-venue response team, and a real-world call-out mission, concerning a flood threatening Dow Chemical's facilities in Midland Michigan,” said Air Force Lt. Col. Kelly Black, commander, 51st WMD CST, Michigan Air National Guard.

    The 22-person team, made up of Michigan Army and Air National Guard members, provide initial assessments of incidents and assist the state emergency management office, the state’s Joint Forces Headquarters, and other key officials including representatives of federal agencies when requested.

    “The 51st WMD-CST has been called upon several times to support events that are heavily populated or include VIPs such as POTUS, VPOTUS, or the governor,” said Black. “When the POTUS came to Ypsilanti to commend Ford Motor Company’s contribution to COVID response with ventilators, the 51st WMD-CST was contacted by the FBI and the Secret Service, and in response, the entire team was placed on alert as part of the team was detailed to preposition at the venue.”

    “We provided an extra level of protection with extraordinarily well-trained personnel and highly technical sensors able to detect chemical, biological or radiological WMD threats,” said Black.

    The CST Guard members that responded were made up of scientists with a mobile laboratory, an executive decontamination team, a HAZMAT-rescue team, a Medic and a communications / sample-transport person.

    “Having this crew on hand at the venue adds extra capability while the Secret Service concentrates on the actual POTUS,” said Black. “We would be able to decontaminate first responders, collect a sample of the potential contaminant, perform a presumptive analysis with hand-held gear, and package samples of interest to the FBI.”

    During the same time as the POTUS visit, the team was also responding to potential chemical hazards due to flooding in northeast Michigan after two dams were breached.

    “The 51st CST was called in to assist with Dow Chemical,” said Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. “The team is standing by to assist in case hazardous materials facilities require protection.”

    Providing emergency response to the state is a core function of the Guard and the department as a whole as the CST received their orders.

    “We were notified that due to breached dams and flooding, there may be chemical hazards at Dow Chemical in Midland, Michigan,” said Black. “We went on alert, notifying the full team to be prepared to mobilize immediately and then to support a potential real-world emergency at the chemical plant.”

    The Michigan Guard provides trained, combat-capable forces in support of the National Military Strategy while simultaneously providing defense support of civil authorities. The team is made up of specialized Guard members with unique qualifications which makes the CST an asset for Michigan.

    “Dow’s initial interest was with our chemical-monitoring equipment and our 22 OSHA-qualified hazmat technicians", said Black. “Our extensive capabilities to respond with Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus, similar to what fire-fighters use, and the ability to operate inside HAZMAT suits, makes our team ideal for this type of situation.”

    “To mitigate potential disaster, our extraordinarily well-trained and well equipped personnel were brought to the front-line to respond to the dynamic situation,” said Black.

    Putting their diverse expertise to use and utilizing the full potential of the CST staffed with scientists, they were sought after to work in the state laboratory as well. A call went out to find professionals with the required certifications, education, training and experiences to work in the highly technical public health clinical lab and in stepped Michigan's 51st Civil Support Team.

    “Since the very first week of the COVID-19 crisis, the 51st WMD-CST has supported the COVID response by providing scientists to the Michigan Department of Health & Human Services (DHHS), Bureau of Laboratories,” said Black. “They are working in the Michigan State Laboratory alongside DHHS scientists conducting COVID tests, and the need for aid was so great that even with our additional scientists, it took two weeks before the original backlog was cleared.”

    “Our team is built from professional and outstanding non-commissioned officers, senior NCOs, and officers,” said Black. “The extraordinary performance from the 51 WMD-CST exemplify the capability of the Guard to support civil authority in domestic operations, especially during times of crisis.”



    Date Taken: 05.28.2020
    Date Posted: 05.28.2020 14:29
    Story ID: 370926
    Location: LANSING, MI, US 

    Web Views: 370
    Downloads: 1