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NEWS | May 20, 2022

Virginia, Maine National Guard CSTs conduct joint training

By A.J. Coyne, Virginia National Guard Public Affairs

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – Soldiers and Airmen with the Virginia and Maine National Guard Civil Support Teams participated in Joint Hazard Assessment Team training with the FBI and the Virginia Beach police and fire departments April 25- 29.  

During the three-day exercise, members of the JHAT survey teams conducted reconnaissance and collected samples of suspicious materials and packages in a military barracks.  

The purpose of the exercise was to integrate with the Virginia Beach Fire Department and bomb squad in case they encounter a hazard while conducting a joint mission, said Lt. Col. Lyndsey Hodgkins, commander of the Virginia Guard’s 34th CST.  

“It is commonly said in emergency management that it is ideal if the first time we meet would not be while responding to a real-world hazard,” she said. “We strive to integrate with federal, state and local entities we may encounter and work with during a real-world response.” 

In addition, the training was an opportunity for the 34th CST to integrate and adapt some of the best practices of the Maine Guard’s 11th CST.   

“Our survey and communications section benefitted tremendously from cross-training with their counterparts,” Hodgkins said. “Additionally, the Department of Health and FBI sent representatives to facilitate and assist with the training. We continue to strive to integrate as many agencies as we can during our field training exercises. Multiagency training is not only beneficial for all parties involved, but we have experienced an eagerness in civilian entities willing to train with the civil support team.” 

The 34th CST supports first responders during incidents involving possible chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear or explosive threats.