STRATTON AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, N.Y. -- For most people a 5 a.m. trip in a 50,000 pound Army helicopter would be an adventure, but for the National Guard members of the 2nd Civil Support Team it's just a morning commute.On Wednesday, July 27, 12 members of the New York team -- military personnel specially trained to find chemical, biological, and radiological weapons -- linked up with a New York Army National Guard CH-47 flown by Soldiers of Company B, 3rd Battalion 126th Aviation from Rochester, New York, for a ride to work. Theat day, the team would participate in an emergency response exercise in nearby Vermont.The combined training satisfied an annual requirement for the members of the Civil Support Team, known as a CST, to practice deployment via helicopter. The Rochester aviators, part of the 42nd Combat Aviation Brigade, also practiced one of their routine aircrew missions: deploying the CST from Stratton Air National Guard Base in Scotia."It was a great opportunity for us to provide the 2nd Civil Support Team with unique CH-47F aviation assets," said Maj. Eric Fritz, one of the CH-47 pilots for the flight. "This also gave us an opportunity to develop a team relationship and understanding of how we can assist in their mission."The CST was participating in a Vigilant Guard disaster response exercise hosted by the Vermont National Guard. The national-level exercise in Burlington required New York's 2nd CST to provide support to fellow CST teams from Maine and Vermont. The exercise, involving both National Guard forces and Vermont first responders, simulated scenarios requiring urban search and rescue, cyber terror defense, a viral outbreak and bio-chemical terrorism.The scenario required the New Yorkers to check for the presence of contaminants at the Burlington Air National Guard Base as other CST elements focused on other events.After the hour flight, the team arrived in Burlington with the sunrise. After initial coordination with an incident commander, two CST members suited up in their hazardous material (HAZMAT) protective suits while other Soldiers and airmen provided decontamination and medical support.The CST trains to assist first responders with identifying agents and substances, assessing current and projected consequences and advising civilian incident commanders on response measures.By late morning, the team had established a decontamination site and a two-person team had entered a vacant building to search for suspected hazardous materials, working together to clear each room inside the building."The team trains constantly and we have to be prepared for many different scenarios," explained Army National Guard Maj. Amy Benedetto, deputy team commander. "The strong bond and trust our team has towards one another allows us to accomplish our missions successfully.Adding to the heat of the summer day in July, the temperature inside the CST HAZMAT suits reached more than one hundred degrees by the time the team cleared all the rooms."If the Soldiers are not 100 percent healthy, not only is their health in jeopardy but also the mission," said Air National Guard Maj. Philip Smith, physician assistant for the CST. "Each Soldier will get a physical to monitor their vitals. These Soldiers must be in great health to wear over 40-pound chemical suits.""Every team has a graded evaluation we must participate in every 18 months, so it pushes us to train hard all year long and take every mission seriously," Smith added.Less than six hours from their arrival, the team provided an all-clear assessment to the incident commander, completing their task and successfully redeploying back to Scotia in the early afternoon.---The 2nd CST is one of two Civil Support Teams in the New York National Guard. New York also maintains the 24th CST, based at Fort Hamilton, Brooklyn, and focuses its operations in the New York City metropolitan area. The two teams, manned by full-time National Guard members, are prepared to deploy throughout New York or the northeast as required.