During the U.S. Army Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear School's Technical Escort Course students learn about chemical-related topics such as the detection and identification of chemicals and the hazards associated with such. However, for the first week of training, service members are learning anything but.
"In this first week of the course everything is confined space," said Sgt. 1st Class Jason Roberts, Technical Escort Course noncommissioned officer in charge. "They test on everything from knots to patient packaging to the mechanical advantages."
Why is confined space training included in a CBRN class?
Roberts explained it's needed to ensure Technical Escort Soldiers in CBRN specialty units, or Crisis Response Teams, have the proper training to safely extract injured individuals.
Roberts added that the teams are used when clandestine labs are found down range, many in confined spaces.
"They'll find a site, and we'll be asked to render it safe or to figure out what is going on down there," Roberts said. "If anybody gets injured down there, or if they find somebody down there, then this is where the training comes into play. They'll be able to get them out safely."
With the range of topics spanning from confined space training to site exploitation of hazards associated with CBRN materials, students agree that the course is more difficult than estimated.
"It is a lot of work, and it is condensed," said course student Staff Sgt. Sasha Gonzalez, 50th Chemical Company, New Jersey National Guard. "Everything they teach us they relate into real-world scenarios. So right now while we're doing patient packaging I keep thinking, 'is she going to be safe coming up?' They stress that any little thing that you do wrong can cause a person to get hurt."
Staff Sgt. DonJuan Brown, 84th Chemical Battalion Advanced Individual Training instructor and student, cautioned future students to stay open minded throughout the course.
"Be receptive to the information," Brown said. "And don't underestimate it. It is more challenging than you think."
Roberts agreed, saying the course is also great for those wishing to set themselves apart in the career field.
"This is one of the Chemical Corps' premier courses, so it's considered very good for your career," Roberts said. "Some of our CRTs are some of the most technically and tactically sound teams, and it takes a lot of knowledge and effort to get into those teams and to stay on them. You really have to be one of the best CBRN NCOs, Soldiers or officers to not only make it through this course but to succeed in those units."
The skills learned during the first week of training are put to the test at the end of the course in a culminating exercise.
"At the end of the entire course they do (situational training exercise) lanes to test their knowledge gained throughout the entire course to make sure they are able to put it all together," Roberts said. "So there will be a patient in the confined space that they will have to get out, making sure they incorporate everything we've taught them to safely and quickly evacuate the casualty."
After successfully completing the Technical Escort Course, students receive the L3 additional skill identifier.