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News > National Guard's civil support teams respond to crisis nation-wide
1st Lt. Craig Geise, a medical team member from Madison, Wis., assigned to the 54th Civil Support Team, a National Guard unit from Madison, Wis.
Civil support teams have been busy this week as events unfolded in the U.S. In this 2008 image, 1st Lt. Craig Geise, a medical team member from Madison, Wis., assigned to the 54th Civil Support Team, a National Guard unit from Madison, Wis., listens to a briefing during training. (Army Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Mark Bell)
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National Guard's civil support teams respond to crisis nation-wide

Posted 4/18/2013   Updated 4/18/2013 Email story   Print story


by Sgt. 1st Class Jon Soucy
National Guard Bureau

4/18/2013 - ARLINGTON, Va. -- Texas and Massachusetts National Guard members are continuing to provide support to civil and local authorities in the wake of the West, Texas, and Boston Marathon explosions, and many of those on duty bring with them a specialized skill set.

On Thursday morning, more than 20 members of the 6th Civil Support Team, Texas Army National Guard, were monitoring air quality for hazardous emissions at the site of a still-burning fertilizer plant.

Additional search and extraction, and command and control capabilities from the Texas National Guard Homeland Response Force (HRF) remain on alert and ready to assist if needed.

Up to 15 were feared dead with at least 160 injured, according to Texas officials.

National Guard civil support teams work with local authorities and provide additional support during times of emergency or use of suspected weapons of mass destruction. The teams have capabilities to identify chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear agents and substances, assess current and projected consequences and advise on response measures.

Members of the Texas Guard's 6th Civil Support Team and the Massachusetts Guard's 1st Civil Support Team are providing technical expertise for authorities.

The Massachusetts team was on duty during the running of the Boston marathon, augmented by similar civil support teams from the New York and Rhode Island National Guards.

In addition, the Mississippi National Guard's 47th Civil Support Team aided state, local and federal officials in identifying potentially poisonous substances mailed to members of the U.S. Senate and the White House.

"Initially, after a catastrophic incident, local and state responders will be the first ones on the ground," said Army Capt. Kenneth Murray, observer/controller/trainer with the Joint Interagency Training and Education Center, West Virginia National Guard. "Then, the civil support teams will assess the situation and the Homeland Response Force will be the first federalized unit that's going to be on the ground to provide decontamination for the sick and injured and relief for the first responders."

For the incident commander on the ground, the CST provides an additional resource in an already chaotic situation.

"An attack using a weapon of mass destruction would further complicate the emergency response efforts and would create a tremendous burden on a wide variety of local, state and federal recourses," said Ray Toves, director of the Civil Support Team Training and Readiness Division with the 196th Infantry Brigade, adding that when the CST arrives on the scene, they work for the local incident commander and bring him or her a unique capability to analyze suspected hazardous agents on site.

In Boston, more than 850 National Guard members were on duty to assist local authorities with logistics, security and other operations. In addition to the CST members, the team also included members of the Massachusetts Army National Guard's 387th Ordnance Company (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) and the 267th Combat Communications Squadron from the Massachusetts Air National Guard. The 267th CCS brings with them the Joint Incident Site Communications Capability, which allows voice, radio and data communication across multiple systems used by first responders.

"The National Guard can be relied upon for our diverse emergency response and rapid deployment capabilities during times of need in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts." said Air Force Maj. Gen. L. Scott Rice, adjutant general of the Massachusetts National Guard.

For more information

Learn more about the National Guard's Civil Support Teams by watching this video and reading our fact sheet.

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