Chemical Biological Incident Response Force
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Pfc. Emil Reinwald, a decontamination technician with Company A, Chemical Biological Incident Response Force, II Marine Expeditionary Force, assembles the non-ambulatory decontamination line, so casualties on stretchers can be effectively decontaminated, during a training exercise at the McMillan Water Treatment Facility in Washington D.C., July 15, 2009. During a chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, or high-yield explosive incident, many casualties will probably be unable to walk. So, CBIRF has a system, where Marines can decontaminate those who will be debilitated. Corpsmen and medical officers respond to chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and high-yield explosive incidents with CBIRF Marines and provide medical care in the contaminated area.

Photo by Sgt. Leslie Palmer

CBIRF Marines, sailors train using consequence management skills

15 Jul 2009 | Sgt. Leslie Palmer

In 1996, Gen. Charles C. Krulak, 31st Commandant of the Marine Corps, helped organize Chemical Biological Incident Response Force, II Marine Expeditionary Force, in response to chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and high-yield explosive (CBRNE) incidents.  CBIRF took on the mission and is one of the only response units in the military with nearly 13 years of experience in CBRNE consequence management.

To brush up on a few of those consequence management skills, CBIRF Marines and sailors conducted a training exercise at the McMillan Water Treatment Facility in Washington D.C., July 15, 2009.

 “Training is the baseline for everything,” said Capt. James Arrasmith, officer-in-charge, Company A, CBIRF.  “If we don’t have the right training, we’re not going to be able to respond appropriately.  That’s why we try to put together realistic training scenarios and work our guys pretty hard.”

Training at CBIRF can take any Marine out his comfort zone and challenge him.  For Sgt. Chad Milo, a decontamination team leader with Company A, training at CBIRF forces him to think outside the box.

“Without proficiency, you’re going to loose lives,” said the infantryman by trade.  “If you’re not consistent, you’re not going to be proficient and you’re going to have people die because they don’t have the proper training.”

CBIRF is unique for the hospital corpsman and medical officers who must provide medical care in contaminated areas.  Though dangerous and complicated, providing on-scene care can greatly increase a casualty’s chances of survival, but no other response unit in the United States does.

“It’s a different scope of care.  Here, [medical personnel] deal more with CBRNE casualties, as opposed to being a fleet corpsman, where we deal more with combat injuries,” said Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael Tate, a hospital corpsman with Headquarters and Service Company, CBIRF.

Training at CBIRF consists of multiple field operations, classes such as the three-week long Chemical Biological Incident Response Force Basic Operations Course and live-agent training in Canada.

“[CBIRF Marines and sailors] do anything between force protection lane training, site set-up and lots of classes,” Milo explained.  “Whatever it takes to get the Marines trained up on what to do.”

For more information on the II Marine Expeditionary Force, visit the unit’s web site at www.iimefpublic.usmc.mil.