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NEWS | Oct. 27, 2006

Oregon National Guard's 102nd Civil Support Team Demonstrates Capabilities to Support Local, State, Federal Agencies

By Oregon National Guard

The Oregon National Guard's 102nd Weapons of Mass Destruction - Civil Support Team held a demonstration event at the Marion County Regional Fire Training Facility in Brooks, Ore. today showcasing their capabilities to support local, state, and federal authorities with weapons of mass destruction incidents.

The 102nd CST, based in Salem, is a unit of 22 full-time Army and Air National Guard members that can be rapidly mobilized to an incident anywhere in Oregon to assist civil authorities with early-detection and analysis capabilities of a chemical, biological or nuclear incident. The goal is to minimize the impact on civilian populations and facilitate requests for follow-on emergency and military support by civil authorities.

"We bring capabilities most of the first responders don't have," said Lt. Col. Steve Ferrell, commander of the 102nd CST. "We assist them with identifying what type of nuclear, biological, or chemical agent may have been used; we advise them on whether it's best to evacuate or shelter in place; and we provide communication through secure and non-secure satellite networks."

Mr. Pat Egan, Chief of Staff to Governor Theodore R. Kulongoski, Maj. Gen. Raymond F. Rees, The Adjutant General of Oregon, and Assistant Chief Bob Jung, of Marion County Fire District 1, attended the demonstration, along with many police, fire-fighters, and military representatives.

"It's reassuring to know we have this level of cooperation and equipment employed to respond this quickly, and I'm very impressed with the ability to move information this quickly and work with multiple agencies at the same time," said Egan.

"This is a great demonstration of a tremendous capability brought to the people of Oregon," said Rees. "I think this is a demonstration of the Guard's commitment to national defense and the defense of the people of Oregon. I'm delighted to have the opportunity to show this off, and look forward to a better relationship between all the first responder communities throughout Oregon."

During the demonstration, the unit simulated responding to a cloud of Sarin gas that was leaking from a building onto a roadway causing vehicle accidents as drivers became exposed to the chemical. During the simulation, first responders, such as local firefighters and police who responded to the incident, became exposed to the Sarin chemical. Civil authorities then called the 102nd CST for assistance in identifying and eliminating the dangerous substance.

"I think it was great that we had a number of first responders come out to our event today," said Lt. Col. Steve Ferrell, 102nd CST commander. "We're always interested to show the capabilities of the team so the first responder community knows they have another tool to use in event of a WMD incident in Oregon or the rest of the country."

The 102nd CST took part in a similar training exercise in February 2006, working with the Oregon State Police, Portland Police, the FBI, area Fire Departments and HAZMAT teams.

The 102nd Civil Support Team was authorized to become a full-time team on March 9, 2004. After a thorough screening and selection process, the first members of the full-time team started duty on June 1, 2004. Since then, the 102nd CST had been training and equipping to receive federal certification from the Department of Defense.

The train-up of the team consisted of nearly 800 hours of individual training by each member of the team to the level of HAZMAT technicians. The team also had to become proficient in using their equipment, which includes a mobile laboratory, communication vehicles, and decontamination equipment.

The 102nd CST was externally evaluated by US Army North (then 5th US Army) in October 2005. The unit received federal certification by DOD on July 24, 2006.

"This certification by the Secretary of Defense is an indication to Congress that we have the right equipment, training and personnel to provide assistance to first responders who don't have the capabilities we offer them," Farrell said.

In addition, DOD certification means the 102nd CST can be integrated into the National Response Plan to provide support to other states if needed.

"There's no doubt about their capabilities," said Rees. "These people have gone through about 800 hours of training each; they've been certified by a national certification team, validated by the Secretary of Defense as to their abilities, so we couldn't ask for a more capable team to help Oregon."

The 102nd is one of 55 full-time teams throughout the country authorized by Congress to assist first responders at a Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) incident. Forty two WMD-CST teams are certified by DOD and 13 are still working through the certification process.



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