Story By Master Sgt. David Eichaker
Michigan National Guard
TRAVERSE CITY, Mich.—The Michigan National Guard’s 51st Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) Civil Support Team (CST) based out of Fort Custer Training Center in Augusta, Michigan, teamed up with local authorities in Traverse City from June 23 to June 25 as they continue strengthening partnerships within Michigan communities. “We continue building our partnerships with Michigan communities by conducting joint-civil authority training,” said Air Force Lt. Col. Kelly Black, 51st WMD-CST commander, Michigan Air National Guard. “We partnered with North Flight Emergency Medical Services, Grand Traverse Metro Fire Department and Grand Traverse Rural Fire Department – hazardous materials (HAZMAT) teams along with the Grand Traverse County Sherriff’s Department as we conducted emergency rescue training wearing OSHA-approved Level A, B, and C HAZMAT suits.” Training with various civilian authorities has intangible benefits that can allow for the sharing of best practices and improved efficiency. “It is always a great experience to work with other agencies and share how we all complete the mission at hand,” said Army 1st Lt. Georgie Juday, 51st WMD-CST survey team leader, Michigan Army National Guard. “We were able to share our mission, capabilities, limitations, and how we actually complete our mission with the other agencies.” “The agencies present at the training had a lot of excellent knowledge and experience that they were able to share with our team as this helps ensure all agencies know and understand what exactly needs to happen when responding to an incident,” she said. The training was conducted in coordination with Regional Emergency Managers, local paramedics, fire-fighters and Law enforcement. The training also included the appropriate follow-on full-medical responses for personnel inured in a HAZMAT response. “The HAZMAT environment a WMD-CST works within is hazardous and to minimize risk, it’s necessary to train to react to threats.” said Black. “For example, if someone on-scene is injured while wearing a HAZMAT suit, they must be efficiently extracted, decontaminated and medically treated.” “This particular training event accomplished each of these tasks along with coordinated responses with local responders,” he said. This CST is 1 of the 57 WDM-CSTs in the National Guard that are located in every state, U.S. Territory, and Washington, D.C. The team’s primary mission is to support civil authorities by identifying HAZMAT agents and substances, advise on response measures, and assist with requests for additional support. “This type of interaction and training ensures all of the agencies are receiving the highest level of training possible,” said Juday. “All of the agencies are able to learn from one another even if it is something as simple as how they store equipment or are using an everyday item to enhance the training—it is improving all of the agencies.” “This sharing of knowledge and experience is vital and when agencies work together, they are able to understand what resources are available in an emergency and creates a more robust and dynamic response which ultimately makes everyone safer,” she said. Juday, who has been in the Guard for eight years, recently joined the team earlier this year. “I served three years as an enlisted Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear Specialist, two years in operations, and three years as a chemical officer at the 460th Chemical Company,” she said. “I feel my background allowed me to bring vast amounts of experience to further enhance this team’s capabilities. “It was great to be a part of the interaction between the agencies during the training and is vital as a state and community that we are sharing this knowledge and experience while continuously working on our craft,” she added.