Army aviators and first responders sharpened their skills needed to respond to a mass contamination.

Members of the 12th Aviation Battalion, The Army Aviation Brigade, Fort Belvoir Fire Department, Fort Belvoir Community Hospital and Davison Army Airfield Operations participated in a full-scale decontamination exercise at Davison Army Airfield, Fort Belvoir, Virginia, April, 25, 2016.

"The 12th Aviation Battalion crew members could be called to evacuate offices in the National Capital Region in the event of a chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosives attack," said Capt. Vincent K. Worrell, 12th Aviation Battalion, Headquarters and Headquarters Company commander. "This training exercise is the first test of a plan developed for the expressed purpose of decontaminating crew members and passengers."

The 12th Aviation Battalion provides a fleet of helicopters for civilian and senior military leaders for transport and provides operational airlift for tactical units. As directed, they employ rotary wing aviation and engineer technical rescue assets to support designated contingency operations.

The scenario began with the 12th Aviation Battalion landing their UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters with volunteers from the J3 directorate Pentagon and Pentagon Tours staff, 249th Engineer Battalion, and 911th Technical Rescue Company acting as casualties on board. The Fairfax County Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) also provided support throughout the training exercise.

The Fort Belvoir firefighters were in full-protective suits while they disembark the casualties and brought them through a gross decontamination station and a technical decontamination lane.

"The importance of the gross decontamination station is to clean off the majority of chemical matter," said Worrell. "The technical decontamination lane is where the casualties clothing and uniforms were removed, their exposed skin was scrubbed clean, and they received protective rubber suits for transportation."

The casualties were evaluated by the Fort Belvoir medical personnel and were then moved by ambulance to Fort Belvoir Community Hospital where they received simulated secondary care.

Once the causalities completed their decontamination, the emergency service personnel and crew members then went through the decontamination lane themselves before removing their protective gear.

"The exercise was an overwhelming success," said Worrell. "Each organization now has a better understanding each other's capabilities and limitations from this exercise. What began as one simple training objective has evolved into an enduring relationship between organizations with multiple cross-training opportunities."