POSTED June 14th, 2012
Story by Lt. Joel Ferguson
National Strike Force
Atlantic Strike Team
BURLINGTON, N.J. — The U.S. Coast Guard Atlantic Strike Team helped put the “joint” into Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst as it participated in the 21st Civil Support Team’s Weapons of Mass Destruction Exercise, June 4-6, 2012.
The event was carried out at the base’s Combined Arms Collective Training Facility, and the exercise designers created a type of situation that lent itself to both federal and state hazardous material responders working side by side. The purpose of the exercise was to allow integration of several WMD Civil Support Teams, federal, state and local hazardous material response teams, while responding to a combined natural disaster and WMD event. In the scenario, the State of New Jersey activated the 21st CST and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA in turn activated the Atlantic Strike Team. All other agencies were activated through mutual aid agreements.
Participants in this exercise included the Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst Office of Emergency Management, the U.S. Air Force’s 87th Bioenvironmental Unit, the 2nd, 22nd, and 24th CSTs, U.S. Health and Human Services, the New Jersey State Police Hazardous Materials Response Unit and Office of Emergency Management, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Burlington County Hazmat, and the Ocean County Office of Emergency Management.
The Atlantic Strike Team supported its joint base partners by opening up its facility to provide a forum for exercise training support. Senior leaders from participating organizations filled the AST’s classroom in order to receive FBI instruction pertaining to the evidence collection process.
“The capabilities of these units are similar, but the operational procedures are very different,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Jon Scott, a marine science technician with AST, and a response supervisor during the exercise. One of his primary duties as supervisor was to observe multiple units as they made entries into an exclusion zone. Throughout the three-day exercise, AST members made entries into the exclusion zones to conduct photo documentation, atmospheric monitoring, sampling, evidence collection, and decontamination.
“The team did a great job during this exercise, and we appreciated the opportunity to work more closely with the 21st CST,” said Lt. Joel Ferguson, operations officer for AST, and response officer for part of the exercise. “It was a welcome opportunity to take advantage of the Combined Arms Collective Training Facility’s proximity to the unit and to validate our standard operating procedures.”
“The World’s Best Responders: Any Time, Any Place, Any Hazard.”