NAMPA, Idaho – Soldiers and Airmen from the Idaho National Guard’s 101st Weapons of Mass Destruction Civil Support Team responded July 24 to a training incident in Nampa to support the Nampa Police Department.
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.”