Civil support team evaluated as fully mission capable


A member of the survey section of the Virginia National Guard’s 34th Civil Support Team conducts a reconnaissance of an area with a possible hazardous substance May 15 at the Dinwiddie County Airport. (Photo by Mr. Cotton Puryear, Virginia National Guard Public Affairs)


SANDSTON, Va. –The Virginia National Guard’s Fort Pickett-based 34th Civil Support Team was evaluated as fully mission capable by U. S. Army North’s Civil Support Readiness Group-East after conducting a Training Proficiency Evaluation May 15 at the Dinwiddie County Airport. The CST conducts an external evaluation every 18 months to validate they are able to effectively conduct their mission of providing support to first responders in potential biological, chemical, nuclear, radiological and explosive incidents.

“The 34th CST is an essential element of the Virginia Guard’s emergency response capability, and we were confident they would do well in this evaluation,” said Maj. Gen. Daniel E. Long, Jr., the Adjutant General of Virginia. “We are very proud of the Soldiers and Airmen on the team and how well they performed.”

The CST can identify chemical, biological, and radiological substances, assess current and projected consequences, advise an incident commander on response measures and assist with requests for additional state support. The team was evaluated as fully trained on twelve different collective tasks including deploying the team, establishing communications and medical support, conducting technical decontamination, CBRN assessments and analytical functions as well as conducting interagency coordination.

“The external evaluation is important to make sure the team is properly trained and able to rapidly respond when needed”, explained Lt. Col. Will Patton, commander of the 34th CST.

In the evaluation scenario, the 34th CST was called to the Dinwiddie County Airport when airport personnel discovered an unknown and potentially hazardous substance. The team quickly deployed from Fort Pickett with an advance party to link up with the incident commander. From there, the rest of the team arrived and quickly set up their equipment. A survey team conducted an initial reconnaissance, followed by a collection team that retrieved a sample for analysis. After an initial analysis, Patton was able to provide recommendations to the incident commander on how to best protect the local population and recommend additional response measures. During the operation, the team had to respond to a simulated casualty and provide medical assistance while in fully protective gear.

The evaluation team briefed the adjutant general and will submit the results to NORTHCOM Headquarters as well as National Guard Bureau for the official validation, Patton said.

The evaluators recognized the team’s strong performance on their initial mission analysis, sampling procedures and quick and effective response to a medical emergency.

The 34th CST is one of 57 such units in the country and is equipped with a wide range of the latest military and commercial equipment CBRN equipment. It is made up of 22 full-time Army and Air National Guard personnel who bring a wide range of career experience from the civilian sector. Each team member completes over 850 hours of technical training by agencies including National Fire Academy, the Department of Defense, the Department of Energy, and the Environmental Protection Agency. The team’s primary response area includes a 300-mile radius from its home station at Fort Pickett and stretches as far north as Pennsylvania and as far south as South Carolina.

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