SHEPPARD AIR FORCE BASE, Texas --
A team of three entered a building on Sheppard Air Force Base the morning of Nov. 3, each wearing gear to protect them from an unknown hazard.
Moments before, a person who had called 911 with complaints of dizziness, a headache and an upset stomach was found unresponsive on a floor. The person was removed from the building and taken to a nearby hospital.
Now, it was up to the team to determine what had caused the person to faint.
That was the scenario personnel with the 82nd Aerospace Medicine Squadron’s Bioenvironmental Engineering Flight and 82nd Civil Engineer Squadron’s Emergency Management Flight worked through at Bldg. 1709 as part of a six-week collaborative training program that culminated with the exercise.
Jeremy Kirk, the base’s EM coordinator, said the training and exercise gave both organizations the opportunity to test their written procedures for hazardous materials response.
“We have a lot of the same capabilities. We complement each other,” he said. “Bioenvironmental engineers, they focus primarily how the hazard effects not only our responders but anyone that’s downwind if there is a downwind hazard, whereas emergency management, we are tasked with identifying and collecting the sample for investigation by a certified lab.”
Kirk said it’s good for the two groups to train together because if there was a real-world event, they would work side by side to provide a robust response to the event.
In this scenario, a second team in the building followed first responders in search of other potential victims and hazards. While searching, the team discovered a room that appeared to be a clandestine lab that had suspicious items on a table. A third team was sent in to identify the items and collect samples.
“What we’re trying to do is identify the chemicals that were in there that cause injury to the member,” said Capt. Rebekha Collins, bioenvironmental flight commander. “So, the scenario is somebody went in there, somebody passed out, and our job is to find out why they passed out and try to get a presumptive ID on what chemicals are on that table, so what were they trying to make?”
Not only did the training give the teams the opportunity to work together, but it also exposed a few new Airmen to the career field some aspects of what they’ll be doing down the road and down range.
Kirk said they will eventually invite other base agencies such as the fire department, security forces and medical specialties to participate in the exercises.