By Chuck Cannon, Guardian staff writerMarch 12, 2010
FORT POLK, La. - Fort Polk's 115th Combat Support Hospital continued its preparations for operations in biological and chemical environments March 5 by learning how to care for casualties in contaminated areas.
The 115th CSH conducted initial training on the Collectively Protective Deployable Medical System, developed for use by medical personnel in chemical and biological contaminated enviroments, Nov. 2-13.
Teams from the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Chemical Defense and Infectious Diseases, located at Aberdeen Proving Grounds, Md., and Fort Detrick, Md., conducted the training.
Capt. Monique Jesionowski manned a station that taught Soldiers how to protect themselves if they encounter a biological or chemical casualty.
"We have photos that show examples of what different types of biological outbreaks might look like, including plague, smallpox, chickenpox and botulinum toxin," she said. "We also teach Soldiers the importance of looking for things like crop dusters flying over crowds or large groups of ill or injured people. It might not always be an attack, but it doesn't hurt to pay attention to what is going on around you."
Maj. LeRoy Marklund taught the 115th CSH Soldiers how to treat casualties incapacitated due to chemical agents such as nerve gas, pulmonary agents or cyanide toxicity. He said it is likely medics in Afghanistan and Iraq would face biological or chemical threats.
"Insurgents have used chemical agents on coalition forces," Marklund said. "You might not hear about it, but it is happening."
Marlund said chemical agents are often dispersed using improvised explosive devices.
"They'll take chlorine tanks and blow them up," he said. "The information we are giving the Soldiers today will most likely be used if they deploy."
After learning how to identify biological and chemical casualties and care for those Soldiers, 115th CSH personnel participated in a virtual reality exercise that tested their ability to set up and run a CP DEPMEDS. The CP DEPMEDS allows a CSH to operate in a chemical or biological contaminated environment without having to don the cumbersome Military Oriented Protective Posture - or MOPP - gear.
"The training we did today (March 5) is part of pre-training for a larger exercise using the CP DEPMEDS in April," said Master Sgt. Dolores Hernandez, 115th CSH. "Last November was phase one of our training, today is phase two and the exercise in April will be phase three."
The 115th CSH was selected by the Army Medical Department to be the first CSH trained on the CP DEPMEDS, the Army's system of protecting combat support hospitals from chemical or biological weapons.