January 10, 2005

34th CST conducts exercise


Members of the 34th Civil Support team prepare their equipment to deal with a weapons of mass destruction threat Oct. 6 during an exercise with Defense Supply Center Richmond fire officials. (Photo Will Daniel, Defense Supply Center Richmond Public Affairs)

By Will Daniel
Defense Supply Center Public Affairs

RICHMOND, Va. -- The 34th Civil Support Team of the Virginia National Guard conducted a joint exercise Oct. 6 with the Defense Supply Center Richmond (DSCR) Fire Department here. According to Fire Capt. George McNamara, the exercise scenario involved a white powdery substance that caused serious illness to a military member.

“Members of the National Guard stationed here brought back some souvenirs from the Middle East — arms, grenades, etc.,” McNamara said of the exercise. “A canister tipped over and white powder fell out. The service member went home and complained of nausea and convulsions. He called a local emergency medical service and was taken to Medical College of Virginia for treatment.”

In the exercise scenario, the hospital emergency room notified installation officials that they had a military member sick with symptoms of poisoning from a nerve agent, McNamara said. “We went in and confirmed the presence of the powder,” he said. “We have the ability to test the powder here, but because weapons were found, we called the 34th CST.”

The 34th Civil Support Team consists of 22 full-time members of the Virginia Army and Air National Guard. Its mission is to augment local, state and regional terrorism responders in events known or suspected to involve weapons of mass destruction. The team identifies chemical, biological or radiological agents; assesses the consequences of the event; advises civilian responders; and assists with requests for additional state and federal assets to help save lives.

Fire Capt. Mark Shreve said the 34th Civil Support Team initiated the training for its members, but that DSCR firefighters stood to gain from the training as well. “It’s an opportunity for us to see their capabilities and them to see ours,” Shreve said. “We’re going (into the contaminated area) with them wearing (hazardous material) suits.”

The team’s commander also emphasized the benefits of joint training. “It’s an excellent way for us to share what we have available,” said Air National Guard Lt. Col. Colleen Chipper.

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