NEWBURGH, N.Y. – Returning from work at Stewart Air National Guard Base, an Airmen became ill and was rushed to the hospital. Medical staff discovered he was exposed to a hazardous nerve agent called Soman.Authorities were sent to Stewart, where they found a laboratory that contained illegal chemical substances.Local and state authorities called in the 2nd Weapons of Mass Destruction Civil Support Team (CST) to provide the building's reconnaissance and collect and analyze samples.This scenario is set in place for the 2nd CST by New York National Guard Maj. Gaetano Casarella, nuclear medical science officer for the 24th CST.The 24th and 2nd CST conducted the combined training exercise at Stewart Air National Guard Base, outside Newburgh, N.Y., from October 19-22.The 24th CST, based at Fort Hamilton in Brooklyn, focuses on the New York City area, while the 2nd CST, based at Stratton Air National Guard Base, in Scotia, N.Y., is configured to deploy to upstate New York.The 24th CST drafted the first scenario for the 2nd CST to go through, and the following day, the roles reversed.According to New York Army National Guard Lt. Col. John Sandefur, the training exercise was designed to strengthen the relationship between the two teams further and ensure interoperability in the event of a large-scale incident occurring in New York State."Having the opportunity to conduct a joint training exercise allows us to hone the skills of working together, where both teams can utilize each other's assets and share tactics, techniques and procedures that we've learned through real-world events," Sandefur said.Two Soldiers, Staff Sgt. Kristin Northrup, the Survey Team Chief for the 2nd CST and Sgt. 1st Class Thomas Myers, the NCO in charge of the team's reconnaissance section, conducted the mission.They were required to wear Level A Hazmat Suits, which is the highest level of encapsulating chemical protective suits. They used a BG4 rebreather, designed to filter out carbon dioxide from exhaled air to ensure they do not inhale contaminants."The Level A suits with the BG4 are the hardest of the suits to work in," Northrup said. "But it's important for us to gain familiarity in these suits while performing in a training scenario."But the Soldiers and Airmen of the 2nd CST don't just train, Sandefur said.The 2nd CST recently responded to two incidents in upstate New York that took place within one week of each other, he explained.The first incident was a fire at a building that was formerly a munitions factory during World War Two. The 2nd CST conducted air monitoring to ensure no toxic industrial chemicals were aerosolized.The second call-out was to a train car where a transported polymer overheated and was at risk of blowing the train car hundreds of feet into the air.The team monitored air around the incident site for toxins released by the rail car smoke to prevent spreading to surrounding areas. It provided local authorities with insight into managing the situation."It's not very often we get called out," said Sandefur. "Called out twice within a week is especially unusual, but we're always ready to respond."Each Civil Support Team includes 22 Soldiers and Airmen trained to detect chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear hazards.There are 57 civil support teams across the United States and its territories. New York is one of the three states that have two teams."You never know when an incident will take place and will require both teams on the scene," said Sandefur. "These joint training exercises make us even more prepared and efficient for real events.""I'm glad we did this exercise," said Northrup. "We're more prepared to work together in the event of a future catastrophe."For more National Guard newsNational Guard FacebookNational Guard Twitter