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Sergeant Austen Clark, the hot zone controller for the Search and Extraction Platoon, helps one of his Marines fasten and secure his gas mask before completing the final exercise of the afternoon during Exercise Scarlet Response 2015 at Guardian Centers in Perry, Georgia, July 21. The hot zone is the area where an incident occurs. Clark makes sure he keeps accountability of everything that goes on when his Marines go in and search a building, such as their gear, if there are any casualties inside or if there are any further issues besides what they already know.

Photo by Lance Cpl. David Staten

CBIRF Marines conduct skills training during Exercise Scarlet Response 2015

24 Jul 2015 | Lance Cpl. David Staten Defense Media Activity

The Search and Extraction Platoon, made up of Marines and sailors with Chemical Biological Incident Response Force, U.S. Marine Forces Command, put on their gas masks and suits in the sticky heat, July 21, for training that will prepare them for disasters around the world.

The platoon is participating in Exercise Scarlet Response 2015 at Guardian Centers in Perry, Georgia, July 21 - 25. The Search and Extraction Platoon is one of the six main sections of CBIRF. If a chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, or high yield explosive incident occurs, CBIRF would be tasked with responding to the incident, and Search and Extract Platoon would be responsible for conducting searches and extracting any victims.

The beginning of the exercise consisted of lane training and skills refresher led by instructors who specialize in technical rescue and who have conducted disaster response operations around the world for more than 20 years. Most of the instructors come from fire services and are involved in urban search and rescue programs.

During lane and skills training, the Marines learn and practice skills in different scenarios. Each scenario gets more intense throughout the exercise. Marines start on a basic level and work their way up to gain proficiency by the end of the exercise.

“We our taking the knowledge base that we have and transforming it into training lanes to help the Marines be able to meet the objectives that they need to do when they are called up,” said Woody Landgrover, an instructor participating in the training.

The platoon reviewed protocols and techniques used when searching and clearing a building such as markings, clearing with rope and using thermal imaging.

The platoon use marks like a backslash (\), an (X) and (V) to help identify if a room or building has been searched, if there were any victims (dead or alive), and the time the team went in and out.

When clearing with a rope, the platoon anchors it to a member or members of the team or a sturdy object. Clearing helps to cover a much larger area, which also provides them with a way to egress if the building is dark and smoky.

“We went out there today and were able to expand our search range from the usual five to six feet to up to a hundred feet using the rope,” said Cpl. Terry Wagenhauser, a member of the Search and Extraction Platoon. “It helps everything go a lot quicker, and we clear a much larger area.”

Later in the afternoon, the platoon went through forcible entry techniques such as learning how to breach through cinder blocks. Highly experienced instructors helped the Marines to learn how to identify, size up and take down a cinder block wall so they can easily create openings to get victims out or enter an area.

Some of the senior members on the Search and Extraction Platoon participated in Exercise Scarlet Response 2014, but for many Marines and sailors it is their first time.

“I feel like it’s really good training for the Marines who just got here,” said Sgt. Austen Clark, a hot zone controller for the platoon. “It’s good inclement weather training. They get to learn from experienced men, and it’s such a big [exercise] that they are bound to get better from this experience.”