By Staff Sgt. Mark A. Moore IISeptember 22, 2015
The event helped Soldiers build confidence in their personal protective equipment during a tear gas chamber exercise and refreshed perishable skills that include; personal decontamination measures, donning and doffing protective clothing, and chemical agent detection reporting.
"We are conducting chemical mask and CS gas (tear gas) chamber confidence training," said 1st Lt. Christopher Killam, chemical officer, 2-15 FA. "It's important to get them (Soldiers) comfortable with their equipment, especially having them experience the difference between having a mask on or off during the gas chamber."
Soldiers entered the chamber in small groups, check their gas mask seal, remove them and recited their name or platoon motto, allowing the chemical agents time to take effect.
"Initially it's just fitting the mask and getting a good seal," explained Killam. "When they go through the chamber they feel the stinging of the CS gas a little bit. They are not having difficulty breathing and they feel almost ok. However, when they take it off it's a complete 180 degree experience, it really reinforces that the equipment works."
The brief chemical agent contact causes temporary skin and mucus membrane irritation that produced tears, mild shortness of breath, and excessive mucus expulsion. All side effects that helped reiterate how well their equipment works.
"I think the most critical portion of this training is the mask confidence," explained Killam. All the other stuff is supplementary. If you don't have confidence in your equipment it becomes a weight and just something else that was issued to you."
Private first class Dilan Hann, a motor transport operator (88M), H Company, 4-31 Inf. admits to being hesitant before entering the gas chamber with equipment he's never used before.
"Before I went in I was kind of nervous," he explained. "The last time I've done this was over a year ago in basic, I didn't know what to expect being here with a different mask."
Hann's nerves were quickly settled once he realized his mask was functioning properly.
"Once I got in I realized there was nothing wrong with the mask, it sealed perfectly, and I had full confidence in my equipment," said Hann.
At the days end approximately 75 Solders had rotated through the event, refreshing perishable lifesaving skills.
"The intent was to not only conduct the mask confidence, but to also remind everybody about basic CBRN defense practices," explained Killam. "I think that in general everyone got that much out of the training and had a chance to practice some things many have not done since basic training."