Basics of Hazardous Operations
by U.S. Army Staff Sgt. E. James Omelina
April 17, 2020
The biting cold onshore breeze stabs through the buildings at
Camp Rilea on the Oregon coast, just south of Astoria. The salt
stained air is brightly lit by the steel grey sky. It is definitely
The cold weather helps keep service members
cool inside the level B hazmat suits they have to wear to practice
operations in a hazardous environment, according to Sgt. Aaron J.
Stiner with the 102nd Oregon CERFP “A soldier can lose 5 to 15
pounds of body weight while working in a level B hazard suit.”
The 102nd Oregon Chemical Biological Radiological Nuclear (CBRN)
Defense Enhanced Response Force Package (CERFP) is a part of the
Homeland Response Force, established by the Department of Defense.
According to the National Guard Bureau, the 102nd CERFP provides
incident response at the direction of the Oregon State Governor. The
mission of the CERFP is to save lives and mitigate human suffering
during an emergency.
January 26, 2020 - Soldiers with the 102nd CERFP, Oregon National Guard, prepare to simulate the decontamination process while using self contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) equipment, Camp Rilea, Oregon. The 102nd CERFP (Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear Enhanced Response Force Package) spent the weekend receiving training and certification in hazardous incident response. (National Guard photo by U.S. Army Staff Sgt. E. James Omelina, 115th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment)
“This is an introductory course for CBRN response elements. This
is where they learn the basics of disaster response” said Capt.
Brian W. Bodie, the operations and training officer for the 102nd
Oregon CERFP, “there is an academic portion where they learn about
things like spill response. And then there is a hands on part where
they learn to put on and move around in the suits that will protect
them. They learn to put the suits on and take them off and how to
help their buddies out.”
The level B suits are bulky and
consist of thick rubber boots, a non-permeable water proof overall
with a hood, rubber gloves, and a mask that can be hooked up to a
Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus consisting of an air tank and
hose, or a Powered Air-Purifying Respirator. The suits are taped up
and the mask, boots, and gloves are secured to the Soldier, or
Airman using a special chemical resistant tape.
actually got dressed, we put on our boots and then we put on the
suit and the boots and then we got taped down by our battle buddies.
We put on the mask, which is, like, really tight on my face. And we
went out we put on air tanks. I was pretty nervous about that. But
it wasn’t that scary,” said Spc. Melissa Benitiz with C co. 741st
Brigade Engineer Battalion.
The Soldiers and Airmen
completed training that would certify them to assist during an
emergency involving chemical, biological or radiological hazards.
This training is required to be a member of the 102nd Oregon CERFP.
January 26, 2020 - Spc. Melissa Benitez with the102nd CERFP, Oregon National Guard, enters a hasty decontamination tent at Camp Rilea near Warrenton, Oregon. The 102nd CERFP (Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear Enhanced Response Force Package) spent the weekend receiving training and certification in hazardous incident response. (National Guard photo by US Army Staff Sgt. E. James Omelina, 115th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment)
“The class was really hard but I passed the written test this
morning. You have to study. And then we did the hands on. It was
pretty exciting,” said Spc. Benitez.
The Hazardous Operations
training course consists of classroom instruction and use of the
specialized equipment. It also includes a comprehensive written
test. And a hands on evaluation where students suit up. Students are
certified by nationally accredited emergency management
organizations. This training is a foundation for careers in the
civilian world of emergency management.
“If a service
member is interested in a career in emergency management, these are
foundational skills that are going to look great on their resumes.
If you were going to pay for a civilian course like this at PCC
(Portland Community College) it could cost thousands of dollars,”
said Capt. Bodie, “we are able to bring those instructors from PCC
out here and offer it to our service members at no cost [to the
individual]. It’s a great benefit, and it’s great training.”
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