Hawaii National Guard Hazmat Specialists Sharpen Skills


Hazmat specialists from the Hawaii National Guard’s 93rd Civil Support Team, brought their unique capabilities here to participate in Kauai County Exercise 2017, Aug. 28-30.

The exercise is a chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, explosive threat and response exercise. The three-day training event tested the coordination between federal, state, county and non-governmental units responding to natural or man-made hazmat incidents.

A host of first responders ranging from Kauai County Police and Fire departments, Hawaii Department of Health, Pacific Missile Range Facility, Kauai Emergency Management Agency, and National Guard civil support teams from Hawaii, Guam, Alaska and Utah came together to practice and validate the tactics, techniques, and procedures needed to effectively respond to a real-world CBRNE incident.

Civil support teams are joint Army and Air National Guard units designed to support local, tribal, state and federal emergency response organizations in the event of a large-scale terrorist attack or where specific technical capabilities to identify CBRNE materials are required. They also have access to other technical and analytical experts who can assist, if needed.

Collaborative Effort

“We are here to support the first responders in the event of a catastrophic event,” said Air Force Lt. Col. Alvin Sato, commander of the 93rd CST. “By working collaboratively together with the first responders ... the more times we work with them the more times we understand each other’s strength and weaknesses.”

Incident command during a domestic CBRNE event would fall to civilian authorities. It’s the job of the 93rd CST and the 57 other CST units spread throughout the nation to support civil authorities by identifying CBRNE substances, assessing current and projected consequences, and advising on response measures.

Large exercises such KCE17 are held throughout the year within different counties with planning starting one year in advance.

The Pacific Missile Range Facility, with its large area and multitude of structures allowed exercise planners to develop complex and challenging scenarios. Simulated drug cooking labs, hostile personnel, and bunkers with possible anti-personnel traps were some of the challenges posed to first responders.

Next-Level Training

“The exercise gave us the opportunity to push our new guys as well as our seasoned personnel,” said Air Force Tech. Sgt. Noah Raymond, a recon team leader with the 93rd CST. “It allowed all of us to bump up to another level and experience new positions and situations that we aren’t necessarily use to.”

As the science officer for the 93rd CST, Army Capt. Sean Cripps analyzed the data and intelligence collected by the joint teams sent into hot zones.

“My main duty is to provide technical advice on the hazards that are found and interpret the meaning and significance,” Cripps said. “I look at the downrange readings, the instrumentation data that’s collected, intelligence data and synthesis that into the ‘so what’ component…what is the impact of this to our public and to the response effort.”

KCE17 also included tabletop and demonstration sessions between the various agencies.

According to Cripps, being able to work with agencies from multiple levels was a valuable part of the experience.

“This is a great opportunity for us to work with our first responder community from the county, state, and federal levels. This is important because we always want to work with people before something actually happens.” he said.

The 93rd CST is made of eighteen Hawaii Army National Guard soldiers and four airmen from the Hawaii Air National Guard.