National Guard students who attend the Civil Support Skills Course at the 1st Lt. Joseph Terry Incident Response Training Facility now leave Fort Leonard Wood with more than a graduation certificate.

Michael Madigan, master instructor for the Civil Support Skills Course, said the U.S. Army Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear School coordinated with the Center for Domestic Preparedness, Federal Emergency Management Agency and the FBI to enhance the course so students graduating receive certification and a higher level of credentials.

Madigan said the process began almost three years ago, when the FBI was asking the military teams be taught more about evidence collection and how to assist in crime-scene analysis. Following some back and forth with the CDP, FEMA and the FBI, Madigan said the course evolved into what it is now.

"This course is far and above what the Army requires," Madigan said, "and now exceeds the course the FBI teaches."

The additional training was necessary, according to Madigan, because the Civil Support Teams are often the first responders during a CBRN incident, and need to know how to approach and make records in what potentially could be a crime scene.

The 56-training-day course covers areas such as site entry, observation, evidence/sample collection and documentation.

This course is required as the initial qualification to serve on a CST, said Maj. Charles Cole, deputy commander, 47th Civil Support Team out of Mississippi, who is attending the current Civil Support Skills Course.

Cole said this training is "paramount" in order to successfully serve with a team during an incident.

Capt. Dillon Sauer, operations officer 92nd CST out of Nevada, agreed, adding that by having the civilian equivalency before going into an incident is important to verify the capabilities of the team for all agencies responding in an incident.

So far, IRTD has certified 100 students under the new requirements, Madigan said.

The CSTs are National Guard units designed to support civil authorities to respond to a chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear incident.

There are 58 full-time teams total, with at least one in each state, Washington, D.C, Puerto Rico, Guam, U.S. Virgin Islands and one Army Reserve team in Germany