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Hawaii National Guard hazmat specialists sharpen skills

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Orlando Corpuz
  • 154th Wing Public Affairs

Hazardous materials specialists from the Hawaii National Guard’s 93rd Civil Support Team, took their unique capabilities to the garden isle of Kauai to participate in Kauai County Exercise 2017 [KCE17], Aug. 28-30.

Held primarily on the U.S. Navy’s Pacific Missile Range Facility [PMRF], KCE17 is a Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, Explosive [CBRNE] threat and response exercise. The three-day training event tested the coordination between Federal, State, County, and Non-Governmental units responding to natural or man-made Hazmat incidents.

A host of first responders ranging from Kauai County Police and Fire departments, Hawaii Department of Health, PMRF, Kauai Emergency Management Agency, and CST units from Hawaii, Guam, Alaska, and Utah National Guards came together to practice and validate the tactics, techniques, and procedures needed to effectively respond to a real world CBRNE incident.

“We are here to support the first responders in the event of a catastrophic event,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Alvin Sato, commander, 93rd CST. “By working collaboratively together with the first responders...the more times we work with them the more times we understand each other’s strength and weaknesses.”

Incident command during a domestic CBRNE event would fall to civilian authorities. It’s the job of the 93rd CST and the 57 other CST units spread throughout the nation, to support civil authorities by identifying CBRNE substances, assessing current and projected consequences, and advising on response measures.

Large exercises such KCE17 are held throughout the year within different counties with planning starting one year in advance.

PMRF, with its large area and multitude of structures allowed exercise planners to develop complex and challenging scenarios. Simulated drug cooking labs, hostile personnel, and bunkers with possible anti-personnel traps were some of the challenges posed to first responders.

“The exercise gave us the opportunity to push our new guys as well as our seasoned personnel,” said Tech. Sgt. Noah Raymond, Recon Team Leader, 93rd CST. “It allowed all of us to bump up to another level and experience new positions and situations that we aren’t necessarily use to.”

As the science officer for the 93rd CST, Army Capt. Sean Cripps helped the exercise effort through analysis of the data and intel collected by the joint teams sent into hot zones.

“My main duty is to provide technical advice on the hazards that are found and interpret the meaning and significance,” Cripps said. “I look at the downrange readings, the instrumentation data that’s collected, intelligence data and synthesis that into the ‘so what’ component…what is the impact of this to our public and to the response effort.”

KCE17 also included tabletop and demonstration sessions between the various agencies.

According to Cripps, being able to work with agencies from multiple levels was a valuable part of the experience.

“This is a great opportunity for us to work with our first responder community from the county, state, and federal levels. This is important because we always want to work with people before something actually happens.” Cripps said.

The 93rd CST is made of eighteen Hawaii Army National Guard soldiers and four airmen from the Hawaii Air