A clear liquid with an ammonia-like smell was discovered in a mail container at the 118th Airlift Wing Jan. 26 resulting in at least two people already hospitalized; or at least it was simulated this way as several members of the 118th Airlift Wing role played during an all hazard response training exercise that took place Jan. 24-28.
"The training is a required exercise by National Guard Bureau," explained Senior Master Sgt. Lisa Sircy, 118th AW Head of Emergency Management. "The team evaluates their capabilities and finds weaknesses in order to better focus their training.
The mixture was really hand sanitizer and water, but the exercise played out as if the strange substance was hydrazine, a highly toxic and volatile chemical usually found on fighter aircraft.
Two separate groups of three went in to inspect the room and test the chemical substance.
"When we respond to a hazard, the fire department is usually the first on scene, the incident commander then calls in additional resources such as bioenvironmental engineering and emergency management teams," said Sircy.
The teams learn how to plan before entering, how to interact with each other since they are from different areas of the base, and how to use the equipment.
"The first team assesses and takes samples and the second team does the same as a back-up," she said.
Unlike, their active duty counterparts, the Guard doesn't have the same amount of time to train. The training gives the Airmen the chance to learn how to use the equipment and what the different alarm signals mean before they have to use it for real.
"The training tells us what we need to do at the 118th to determine a game plan for improvement," said Chief Master Sgt. Mark Nelson, 118th AW Command Chief. "If this were a real situation, it would be crucial to determine what the poison is in order to treat the victims properly and effectively."
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