ER Team practices response drills
March 7, 2009
- ER Team practices response drills
JOINT BASE BALAD, Iraq - The Joint Base Balad Emergency Response Team and Army postal service workers conducted training response drills to suspicious substances discovered in packages at the Joint Military Mail Terminal here Feb. 5-6.
Soldiers from 81st Mail Management Terminal, from Fort Hood, Texas, and Airman from the 332nd Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron hosted the two-day training event to decrease their response time to potential hazardous material threats.
The first day the teams practiced setting up the command and control area and staging two response trucks and HAZMAT operations trailer. The team also set up a decontamination area.
"We identified ourselves to the security personnel and they now know our vehicles," said Tech. Sgt. David B. Gallagher, the noncommissioned officer in charge of readiness and emergency management with the 332nd ECES. "We are building partnerships for entry into the building and future exercises."
Gallagher, a resident of Spanaway, Wash., and his team of eight on-scene personnel practiced reaction to a suspicious substance by donning their protective clothing and equipment, entered the JMMT facility to locate and identify the substance as safe or as a threat agent.
"This exercise was successful because the reaction time to suspicious substances has significantly decreased," said Chief Warrant Officer 3 Jonathan L. Gay, officer in charge of the JMMT with the 81st MMT.
Gallagher said he felt the exercise was a success because his team developed a good rapport with the mail terminal managers and staff.
"We are here at Joint Base Balad," Gallagher said. "The key word being joint. We need to span out to create relationships with our joint service partners and contractors."
"This exercise was a great success and facilitated partnerships between the emergency response team, security forces, and JMMT staff," said Gay, a resident of Belton, Texas.
The JMMT processes approximately two million pounds of mail for northern Iraq per month. They have had two real world responses and conducted two exercises. Gay said the good news is no incident has resulted in the identification of a dangerous substance.
"We handle a large volume of mail at JMMT on a daily basis," Gay said. "The faster we identify and react to suspicious substances, the faster we can return to the reception, sorting and distribution of mail."
Gallagher said the JMMT is the most frequent response area because of the items sent to Soldiers in care packages.
"Things sent to our troops leak white powder," Gallagher said. "For example, coffee creamer, powdered sugar treats, foot powder, potpourri or scented oils can resemble HAZMAT."
Gallagher said conducting training exercises is important because it increases the response team's readiness posture. He said the training also develops knowledge of the facility, potential threats and response procedures for incidents.
Gay said he has seen progress in the response team's performance since arriving four months ago.
"Suspicious packages are identified faster and handled safer and more efficiently to protect the Army, Air Force and contractors that work in the facility," Gay said.
STORY BY SGT CRYSTAL REIDY
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