Outside in blustery, cold wind and freezing temperatures, Army North conducted a Training Proficiency External Evaluation of the 7th Civil Support Command’s 773rd Civil Support Team’s unit readiness to respond to a real-world Chemical, Biological, Radiological or Nuclear event, Feb. 2 to 12.
The scenario evaluated on Feb. 6 involved possible criminal activity and radioactive material.
“We are being evaluated on our ability to react to an incident,” said Staff Sgt. Shawn McKenna, site survey team leader with the 773rd CST. “It would be weapons of mass destruction or a chemical spill.
“We will determine the radioactive material source and identification,” McKenna continued. “We will use our detection equipment to locate and ID the radioactive isotope.”
Capt. Jon Underberg, survey team leader, 773rd CST, gave an initial mission brief before the team launched their site survey mission. ARNORTH evaluates the 773rd every 12 to 18 months, he said.
“They’re doing an external evaluation,” Underberg said. “They are here to validate our unit for real-world CBRN missions.”
Underberg’s initial brief included a rehearsal and a separate decontamination and medical brief as ARNORTH observer/controllers looked on.
Underneath their protective suits, each member of the site survey team wore a small beeper-type device called a Thermal Luminous Detector that measures radiation in the air. The TLD monitored their radiation exposure, which is limited by the operational exposure guidance.
The medical team is composed of two 773rd CST Soldiers who take care of the survey team in case of an emergency. They check vital signs beforehand and upon return from the site survey.
As the medical team headed out of the briefing tent, they also received coaching, mentoring and feedback from ARNORTH O/CT Mark Stiftinger, Department of the Army civilian.
“His brief gave us valuable insight,” said Capt. Shawnda Bass, 773rd CST’s medical officer.
It has been going well, has solidified things being done right and has identified things that can be improved, he added.
The overall ARNORTH TPE was summed up by John Nonemaker, division chief of the Civil Support Training Activity with ARNORTH.
He said the ARNORTH O/CTs are another set of eyes for the 773rd CST commander to make an “assessment of the readiness of his unit.”
“It’s a tool commanders can use to understand where they’re at and provide information for best practices,” Nonemaker said.