Joint exercise ensures mission capabilities

by Senior Airman Katherine Holt
86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Six agencies, including the Army’s 773rd Civil Support Team and Emergency Management Assessment Team, responded to a simulated blister agent threat at
Bldg. 822 in the Ramstein housing area Oct. 27.

After receiving intelligence, it was believed that a suspect planted a blister agent in an uninhabited stairwell housing building. Explosive ordnance disposal dispatched a team to ensure there was no threat to other first responders, such as the fire department, needing access to the building.

Teams from the 773rd CST made entry and collected air and liquid samples that were packaged to gold lab standards and received 100 percent confirmation that a blister agent existed in the building. Samples included two dead birds found on scene.

“The birds could be helpful to indicate timelines and any other possible agents that were there prior to the current lab scenario,” said Senior Airman Rachel Garner, 886th Civil Engineer Squadron emergency management. “Once the mission was completed, Army and Air Force EOD teams were sent in to perform leak, seal and package procedures on two munitions rounds containing simulated nitrogen mustard.”

Luckily, this was just a jointb agency, interoperability exercise headed by 886th CES emergency management. EOD, Fire Department, 86th Aerospace Medical Bio Environmental, 773rd CST, and the Army Emergency Management assessment team participated in the exercise.

“This is the largest exercise we have put on,” said Garner, project manager for the exercise. “It took three months to organize six different agencies.”

For this exercise, no players were simulated. Having all agencies on hand resulted in a more realistic exercise.

“This was a real-world scenario,” said Army Capt. Janie Peacock, 773rd CST. “We were able to bring agencies together to see how each work with similar equipment. This was the first time our unit has worked with (Air Force) EOD.”

Having all agencies present for the exercise gave players insight on the timeline of events that would take place in a real-world situation.

“Everyone actually got to experience what each team did on scene,” said Garner. “This gave us an idea of what will happen in an actual event with all manning required.”

In a real-world situation, all of the players in this exercise would respond together. Having this exercise gave agencies the chance to work together before an incident occurs.

“We all bring different capabilities to the fight,” said Peacock. “Today we were able to learn to work with cohesiveness.”