MUSCATATUCK URBAN TRAINING CENTER, Ind. (Aug. 5, 2013) -- The 52nd Weapons of Mass Destruction-Civil Support Team from Columbus, Ohio, and the 103rd Weapons of Mass Destruction-Civil Support Team from Fort Richardson, Alaska, were called in to assess a simulated Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear incident, Aug. 1, during the U.S. Army North (Fifth Army) lead Exercise Vibrant Response 13-2, at Muscatatuck Urban Training Center.

Although it is nothing new for the Civil Support Teams, known as CSTs, to receive calls of this type, it is very uncommon when one of their own goes down while performing these missions -- so it was something the team's commander wanted to simulate.

"We had four teams at the incident site. Then, we had one man "go down" inside the building," said Maj. Richard Mohammadi, deputy commander of the 103rd WMD-CST. "At that point, the command 'Man Down' is given and the main focus of the operation is to get that man out of the building and into the decontamination site.

To see for himself and to personally get a "casualty's" perspective, Lt. Col. Jeffrey Suver, the commander of the 52nd CST, decided he would be the man to "go down" during the scenario.

"I was a part of the entry team, along with the cameras, and I tripped and fell on a chair and went unconscious," explained Suver. "I wanted to be the casualty so I could go through the decontamination system in order to see the process from a casualty's perspective."

The CST members serve as the first responders, even prior to civilian first responders entering a chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear incident site; and, in a situation where one of their own goes down, they also have there very own first response team.

"At that point, the Rapid Intervention Team is called in to extract the downed man from the building," explained Suver, adding that the Rapid Intervention Team, or RIT, is responsible for bringing the victim to the decontamination line, where the person will go through a complete decontamination sequence in order to get him or her out of the chemical suit and into the hands of the medical team. "I've watched this process over and over again," said Suver, "but actually going through as the casualty gave me an entirely new perspective of what my troops go through -- or potentially have to go through -- in the event of a man down situation."

Inside the tent, casualties undergo an extensive and thorough decontamination process.

Once inside decontamination tent, the casualty is moved thorough the tent on a gurney to the showering point, explained Staff Sgt. Dustin Bowshier, a member of the 52nd WMD-CST decon team. Next, the casualty is doused in water if considered non-ambulatory. The casualty is then immediately tested for traces of the chemical agent identified from the incident site.

After the casualty is cleared of the agent, the casualty is cut from the chemical suit, the mask is removed, and the casualty is transferred to a gurney in the cleared area of the tent and turned over to the medical team for treatment. The chemical suit is tagged and bagged with the identified chemical labels on the bags and left to be cleaned by an Army contracted hazardous material agency.

"I learned a lot today and intend to streamline things a little more," said Suver. "It was a great joint training event between the Ohio National Guard and the Alaska National Guard. "I could not ask for better training event, and it opened my eyes to a lot of things that we can do differently improve our man down procedures as a whole."