A Fort Hood medical company conducted field training March 17-19 to certify the unit to assume the Defense Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and Explosive Reactionary Force mission.

The mission consists of 5,500 active and reserve soldiers trained to assist civilian first responders in the event of a domestic catastrophic CBRN event. The reactionary force deploys with medical, aviation, communications, logistical, decontamination and search and rescue units to aid the civilian population affected by the crisis.

“This training is important for my soldiers because you never know when a catastrophic event may strike the United States, and it’s important for my soldiers to know how to treat the civilian population and save lives,” said Kristy Cortner, the first sergeant for the 566th Area Support Medical Company, 61st Multifunctional Medical Battalion, 1st Medical Brigade.

During the exercise, personnel from U.S. Army North helped facilitate the training by providing evaluation and feedback to soldiers conducting the exercise. The goal was to earn a training proficiency evaluation before the missions begins Oct. 1, said James Barkley, the U.S. Army North Command Division Chief from Columbus, Ohio.

Alongside the 566th was the 44th Chemical Company, which is currently on the reactionary mission. The unit participated in the exercise as a way to stay proficient in the skills necessary to conduct mass casualty decontamination operations.

“We, as a chemical unit, would work with other units to provide mass-casualty decontamination to the civilian populace affected by the event,” said Staff Sgt. Frederick Hillard, a chemical operations specialist with the 44th Chemical Company, 2nd Chemical Battalion, 48th Chemical Brigade. “This type of training helps us get accustomed to working with medical units, military and civilian police, and EOD (explosive ordnance disposal) units.”

It helps when both the chemical and medical units are working side-by-side because that’s how it would be in an actual event, Barkley said. The chemical unit would decontaminate the casualty then move them to the medical station for further assistance.

Civilian role players added a level of realism for the soldiers conducting the training.

“The role payers are told to act as if a ‘real-world’ explosion just occurred, and they are trying to receive help,” Hillard said.

“It helps us have a realistic view and a sense of urgency that ordinarily wouldn’t exist in a regular training environment with mannequins.”

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