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Cpl. Alexandro Gachupin, litter bearer, and Sgt. Jorge Diaz, extractor, both with Decontamination Platoon, Company B, Chemical Biological Incident Response Force, II Marine Expeditionary Force, ensure a simulated casualty who cannot walk is safely put on the decontamination line May 4 during exercise Ardent Sentry 08. The exercise is the annual North American Aerospace Defense Command and United States Northern Command Defense Support of Civil Authorities exercise incorporated into NLE 2-08.,

Photo by Cpl. Leslie Palmer

CBIRF Marines, sailors take their skills cross country

13 May 2008 | Cpl. Leslie Palmer

Marines and sailors with Chemical Biological Incident Response Force, II Marine Expeditionary Force, participated in Ardent Sentry 08, the annual North American Aerospace Defense Command and United States Northern Command Defense Support of Civil Authorities exercise incorporated into National Level Exercise 2-08,  here, May 4-7.

NLE 2-08 was specifically designed to unite emergency responders and enable shoulder-to-shoulder participation among local, State, and Federal response organizations in mitigating a CBRNE incident in a joint atmosphere.

“We’re the premier life-saving force for chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and high-yield explosive attacks,” said Sgt. Kevin Lundeen, squad leader, Decontamination Platoon, Company B, CBIRF. “We’re the whole package,” he explained.

CBIRF has varied disciplines to mitigate a CBRNE incident. The unit has several sections including the Identification and Detection Platoon, Decontamination Platoon, Medical Platoon and Technical Rescue Platoon. In a real-world incident, CBIRF is equipped to solely sustain downrange operations for up to 72 hours.  After three days, CBIRF needs assistance from follow-on forces. In such an environment, whether the responder is from the Army or Marine Corps doesn’t matter, said Army Sgt. Kilian Jakob, CBRNE specialist, 44th Chemical Co., Ft. Hood, Texas.

“We need to save lives and get the mission completed as fast as possible,” said Jakob.

During the course of the exercise, CBIRF Marines decontaminated a dog, relieved a company of Army emergency responders using the Army’s response equipment and decontaminated hundreds of live casualties.

“I think it was good that (CBIRF Marines and sailors) got a chance to show what they can do and put their skills on display,” said Lt. Cmdr. Pam Krahl, initial response force senior medical officer, Headquarters and Service Company, CBIRF.

"It’s a rare opportunity for CBIRF emergency responders to train with civilian and army emergency responders," Krahl said. They played a big role in getting casualties follow-on medical care after CBIRF Navy corpsmen stabilized them both in and out of the contaminated area.

“We do a lot of training at CBIRF, but often the training is within our own unit.  It’s always a valuable opportunity for us to go that next step once we get the patients out of the hot zone, to get them moved on to the next level of care at the hospital,” Krahl explained. “CBIRF responders can pull them out of the contaminated environment and stabilize them, but we need help at that point to continue taking care of them.”

Successfully working in a joint environment is crucial for CBIRF Marines and sailors, because in a real-world CBRNE incident, emergency responders from the Army, Air Force and civilian community will be working alongside CBIRF Marines and sailors to mitigate a catastrophe.

“It’s about working out what you need and how to communicate it in a way that people will respond since the lingo is different in each service,” Krahl said.  “If you think it out ahead of time, it’s so much easier.” 

One vital purpose for the exercise, Krahl said, was to facilitate thinking through the integration of these different response capabilities.


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