U.S. Army Reserve 7th Civil Support Command’s 773rd Civil Support Team conducted its annual training July 17 to 28, augmented by additional 7th CSC Soldiers from 771st and 774th CST, who also attended as participants.
On July 27, the 773rd CST hosted a Chemical Biological Radiological and Nuclear detection site survey training exercise as their culminating AT event.
Wearing bulky oversized cornflower blue CBRN protective suits that resembled something out of a science fiction movie, yellow oxygen tanks, gas masks, and rubber boots and gloves, the preliminary monitoring team, Army Staff Sgt. John Bennets, 771st CST, 7th CSC, U.S. Army Reserve, and Army Spc. Christopher Murphy, 774th CST, 7th CSC, USAR, moved as a two person PMT detachment to a metal building structure to search for a simulated chemical spill while also stopping repeatedly to check each other’s suit for harmful pathogens.
“The purpose of the PMT is to establish a safe work area. (Establish) how forward we can move to the incident,” said Army Capt. Jennifer Gross, the survey team leader for the 773rd CST, 7th CSC. “A lot of these guys have cross-leveled into CBRN. This gives them a different perspective.”
Bennets said he liked the training.
“It’s good to be in the suit,” he said. “(It’s the) first time that I’ve trained with a fully operational CST with all their equipment.”
Bennets, a newcomer to his CST unit, still brought some related experience, since he transferred to the 771st from a mass casualty decon platoon in Sioux Falls, S.D., the 323rd Chemical Company (prior to assignment with 771st).
Training supervisor and Survey Team Chief Army Sgt. 1st Class Timothy Butler, 773rd CST, 7th CSC, checked, rechecked and quizzed the two Soldiers on their CBRN techniques as the team approached the simulated suspected chemical spill site and on their return trip back until they reached the safe zone.
“It’s great that the 771st let me come down for the training,” Bennets said afterward. “It really did provide a great opportunity.”
After the PMT, next up was the site characterization team with three other 773rd CST members followed by a sampling team to conduct a sampling survey, after which the specimens gathered would be analyzed in the lab as the final stage for a CST’s site survey response to a real world CBRN event.
After completing the course, the Soldiers checked each other for contaminants and then helped each other take off the bulky blue suits, oxygen tanks, mask and gloves. Both Soldiers were drenched in sweat after approximately 40 minutes in the gear.
“When it’s hot here, it’s hard to wear the suit, but we just dealt with it because the mission’s still gotta happen,” Murphy said. “These past two weeks have been quite an experience. I’m straight out of AIT (advanced individual training). I think it it’s one of the best units (773rd CST) because they have the equipment and resources to train properly.”