Chemical Biological Incident Response Force
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Sgt. Mark Warner (left), Cpl. Emidio Tenaglia (right), technical rescue technicians, technical rescue platoon, Headquarters and Service Company, Chemical Biological Incident Response Force, II Marine Expeditionary Force, assists in getting the simulated casualty from the ship to the ground using a highline in a simulated contaminated environment at Eastern Shield, an exercise here March 17th. For the first time ever, Marines with the technical rescue platoon set up a highline; which is used to transport simulated casualties from high to low places.

Photo by Sgt. Leslie Palmer

CBIRF Marines and sailors conduct maritime operations for the first time in seven years

17 Mar 2009 | Sgt. Leslie Palmer

Most Marines and sailors at Chemical Biological Incident Response Force, II Marine Expeditionary Force are used to operating on land. In an effort to disengage from their comfort zones, CBIRF Marines and sailors took their training to different venues.

CBIRF Marines and sailors exercised their chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and high-yield explosive (CBRNE) consequence management skills at Eastern Shield, an exercise here March 17th. For the first time in seven years, Marines and sailors forged their way to simulated casualties on a wobbly ship in the midst of ocean waters.

“My intent is to be able to take away enough lessons learned from this operation and formalize some sort of a standard operating procedure for maritime operations, because we’ll (CBIRF Marines and sailors) come down here again and do the same thing. We’ll be that much more prepared,” said Col. John Pollock, commanding officer, CBIRF.

Preparation in CBRNE consequence management is vital, explained Pollock, who helped develop the training package for CBIRF. While the procedures are nothing new, he said, the Marines and sailors are operating in a different environment than what they are used to.

“They are getting ready to conduct agent identification. They are going to go on board and do search and extract operations, sectoring off this big ship and go through it searching for casualties,” Pollock explained. “As the extractors find casualties, they will properly package and extract them; moving the casualties to the decontamination line. Then, the casualties will be moved to the medical stabilization tent, where they will be transported to some sort of civilian medical facility for follow on treatment.” 

In addition to conducting maritime operations, CBIRF’s technical rescue platoon set up a highline on top of the ship, which is used in technical rescue to transport casualties from a high to low location. 

“We’ve never done a highline off of a ship before, and we learned it was difficult…just getting the rope off the boat to the deck (ground) was a real challenge…but, we completed the mission,” said Cpl. Jeson Coleman, training noncommissioned officer, technical rescue platoon, Headquarters and Service Company, CBIRF. “We get the job done, whether it’s on top of a boat or on top of a building.”  

Learning how to operate in a contaminated environment while on a ship proved to be a difficult task, Coleman explained. Overcoming fears and completing the mission was the best part of the training here, Coleman added.   

“It was scary walking up the plank with all of my gear, my pack on my back; carrying my tools while the ramp was bouncing back and forth, but I got through it. What really made it difficult was having our gas masks on, while we were setting the high-line up. It’s really easy to misjudge distances in gas masks,” Coleman explained.

As one simulated casualty noted at the exercise, it’s important to prepare for a CBRNE incident, because responders must know their equipment to its fullest extent. It may be useful in times of life or death.

“In a situation like this, you have to know what you’re doing. Teamwork and camaraderie are very important,” said Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Brad Farber, simulated casualty, a hospital corpsman assigned to 2nd Medical Battalion, Camp Lejeune, N.C.

Taking their training to an uncommon venue for CBRNE consequence management operations, CBIRF Marines and sailors disengaged from their comfort zones further sharpening their emergency response skills.