On Monday, April 24, members of the Tooele Army Depot (TEAD) Fire Department along with Soldiers from the Utah National Guard (UTNG) 85th Civil Support Team (CST) and Wyoming National Guard (WYNG) 84th CST held an emergency response exercise in a vacant troop area on the depot.

The exercise was part of a quarterly program instituted to test the emergency response and mitigation of incidents on TEAD. This training allows seasoned, as well as new TEAD fire personnel the opportunity to practice the use of Incident Command System methods and procedures while working with an outside support agency.

The training began when the TEAD Fire Department was called to respond to a reported fire in a vacant two-story building. Upon arrival, firefighters entered the structure (filled with smoke from smoke machines for the exercise) to search for victims and find the seat of the fire. Once inside, firefighters ceased primary search and continued hazardous materials (HAZ MAT) protocol due to finding a potential lab. Personnel were instructed to withdraw from the building and the incident commander (IC) was notified. The IC immediately contacted the UTNG 85th CST for assistance.

This special outside assistance request is made possible through Cooperative Mutual Aid Agreements.

"Our Mutual Aid partners at the local, state and federal level are absolutely critical to our ability to safely mitigate large complex incidents, should they occur, here at TEAD," said Steve Griffith, assistant chief, Fire & Emergency Services, TEAD.

Soldiers from the WYNG 84th CST were exercise planners and observers to help fellow CST team members better prepare and practice for a future certification exercise.

"Every state has at least one (National Guard) CST team and it's an opportunity for us to know and help them," said Lt. Col. Holly Shenefelt, commander, WYNG 84th CST. "It's a small community and we are here to make each other better for the communities we support."

Throughout the exercise, a member of the TEAD Fire Department worked alongside members of the UTNG 85th CST during various operations.

"This is about working with local first responders and supporting them," said Shenefelt. "You want to get out and know the people you are going to work with before the true emergency hits."

Operations and objectives that were evaluated included command and control responsibilities, medical response assessments, emergency operations center activation, simulated "man down" evacuation, security protocols and HAZMAT decontamination activities.

"Having the WYNG 84th CST here is great because then we don't have to worry about setting up the training," said Lt. Col. Craig Bello, commander, UTNG 85th CST. "They provide us an objective look on how we operate and making sure we are fulfilling our mission essential tasks."

The exercise began in the early afternoon and ended near midnight.

"It's important to train with first responders to get to know their abilities and help them get to know ours," said Bello. "So when there is a real-world emergency, we already know how each other operates."

TEAD Fire Department personnel have been coordinating, training and conducting emergency response exercises with National Guard CST teams for the past four years and have completed four full-scale exercises.