By Master Sgt. Becky Vanshur – Idaho Military Division Public Affairs
SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA, Calif. – The Idaho National Guard’s 101st Civil Support Team was among several National Guard CSTs that participated in a large-scale exercise in Northern California Feb. 1-5.
The exercise, BAYEX 2021, tested the ability of Idaho, Oregon and Nevada CST teams to assist the California National Guard’s 95th CST while responding to training scenarios in the Bay Area involving weapons of mass destruction emergencies.
“This exercise gives us valuable training in our ability to respond to a chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear event,” said Lt. Col. Christina Taylor, commander of the 101st CST. “We have taken significant actions to ensure the 22 Soldiers and Airmen of the CST have the opportunity to continue to refine their skills in collective training exercises such as BAYEX.”
To initiate the exercise, biologically actionable results were simulated inside an abandoned military facility and a transit boat transporting people around the San Francisco Bay Area. The hazardous agent triggered phase one sampling, which resulted in federal agencies requesting support from the National Guard’s civil support teams. Civil support teams work closely with law enforcement and first responders, including the FBI, Department of Homeland Security and explosive ordnance disposal teams.
“It is important for every state’s governors and the nation to know that in the event of a small or large-scale emergency, the CST units are designed to respond and support local and federal civilian agencies,” said Taylor.
The Oregon National Guard’s 102nd and the Nevada National Guard’s 92nd CST also supported the California National Guard’s 95th CST training exercise.
“I truly enjoyed participating in this event,” said Staff Sgt. Troy McDonald, 101st CST survey team chief. “The exercise allowed our team to interact with other CST members and cross-train with each other, sharing best practices and procedures.”
Participating in large-scale exercises helps the 101st CST remain ready to respond to emergencies throughout Idaho and the nation. The unit supports civil authorities at domestic incident sites, which may involve areas affected by terrorism or natural disasters.
“It is vital to continue training for emergencies even as the global COVID-19 pandemic continues,” said Taylor. “It’s imperative that the Idaho National Guard civil support team remains trained and ready to respond at all times to our local community, as well as neighboring states, in the event of a large-scale real-world HAZMAT emergency.”
Capt. Robert Taylor
Idaho Army National Guard
NAMPA, Idaho – Soldiers and Airmen from the Idaho National Guard’s 101st Weapons of Mass Destruction Civil Support Team responded to a training incident in Nampa to support the Nampa Police Department July 24.
The training event, held at the empty building that formally housed the Mercy Medical Center, tested the unit’s ability to deploy without notice to a local incident. The Nampa Police Department requested the 101st CST support to complement its own training at the facility simultaneously.
“It’s good to know what support we have nearby so we’re not having officers putting themselves into dangerous situations when we have other resources available,” said Nampa Police Department Sgt. Jason Cantrell.
The training scenario focused on a chemical lab that was discovered while the Nampa Police Department investigated reports of suspicious behavior. The department requested the 101st assistance because the regional hazmat team was unavailable, a scenario that could happen in the event of a real-world incident.
Cantrell explained it was more practical and safe to request support from the 101st to investigate unknown chemical agents than to send a police officer into the building wearing a gas mask. The 101st was able to report to the scene in less than two hours after notification.
The 101st trains year-round and often with local first responder agencies. The 22-person team is one of 57 CST units in the National Guard across the country. Each team provides unique expertise and capabilities to assist state governors in preparing for and responding to chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear incidents and natural disasters as part of each state’s emergency response structures.
“It’s nice to build relationships with first responders so we can put faces to names if there is a real-world event,” said Sgt. 1st Class Richard Bachmeier, the unit’s communication section chief.
The 101st has worked with the Nampa Police Department on real-world missions in the past. In March, the unit responded to the same parking lot after the Nampa Police Department received a bomb threat involving a nearby apartment complex. Units did not find any suspicious items or substances and police arrested a suspect in connection to the threat.
In February 2018 the 101st and Nampa Police Department worked together with other local agencies in a large-scale training event at the Ford Idaho Center.
“We enjoy our relationship with the 101st,” Cantrell said. “Training together allows us to be able to get a better understanding of their capabilities and operating procedures to facilitate something of this magnitude.”
Click here to read more: 101st Civil Support Team prepares for upcoming evaluation
Click here to read more: Multiple Agencies train for mass destruction