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Ellsworth, 82nd CST conduct CBRNE exercise

U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Dalene Link (left), 82nd Civil Support Team decontamination NCO in charge, and U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Marcia Hento, 82nd CST NCO in charge of supply, setup a decontamination area during a training exercise at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., Jan. 8, 2014. The 82nd CST team consists of 22 individuals who are trained to assist authorities in response to chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosive threats. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Zachary Hada/Released)

U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Dalene Link (left), 82nd Civil Support Team decontamination NCO in charge, and U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Marcia Hento, 82nd CST NCO in charge of supply, setup a decontamination area during a training exercise at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., Jan. 8, 2014. The 82nd CST team consists of 22 individuals who are trained to assist authorities in response to chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosive threats. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Zachary Hada/Released)

U.S. Army Sgt. Alex Page, 82nd Civil Support Team survey team member, adjusts his gas mask before participating in a training exercise at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., Jan. 8, 2014. The 82nd CST’s mission is to strengthen local and regional terrorism response capabilities during events known or suspected to involve weapons of mass destruction. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Zachary Hada/Released)

U.S. Army Sgt. Alex Page, 82nd Civil Support Team survey team member, adjusts his gas mask before participating in a training exercise at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., Jan. 8, 2014. The 82nd CST’s mission is to strengthen local and regional terrorism response capabilities during events known or suspected to involve weapons of mass destruction. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Zachary Hada/Released)

Tech. Sgt. Dustin Clement, 82nd Civil Support Team survey team member, photographs the accident scene during a training exercise at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., Jan. 8, 2014. The 82nd CST is responsible for identifying and responding to any chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosive incidents that occur at Ellsworth. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Zachary Hada/Released)

Tech. Sgt. Dustin Clement, 82nd Civil Support Team survey team member, photographs the accident scene during a training exercise at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., Jan. 8, 2014. The 82nd CST is responsible for identifying and responding to any chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosive incidents that occur at Ellsworth. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Zachary Hada/Released)

U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Kerry Slaba (left), Tech. Sgt. Dustin Clement (middle), and U.S. Army Sgt. Alex Page, 82nd Civil Support Team survey team members, collect samples during a training exercise at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., Jan. 8, 2014. The exercise was designed to test the participants’ ability to respond to a simulated casualty and unknown substance. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Zachary Hada/Released)

U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Kerry Slaba (left), Tech. Sgt. Dustin Clement (middle), and U.S. Army Sgt. Alex Page, 82nd Civil Support Team survey team members, collect samples during a training exercise at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., Jan. 8, 2014. The exercise was designed to test the participants’ ability to respond to a simulated casualty and unknown substance. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Zachary Hada/Released)

ELLSWORTH AIR FORCE BASE, S.D. -- Ellsworth first responders teamed up with the South Dakota National Guard's 82nd Civil Support Team to conduct a vital Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and Explosive training exercise at Camp Lancer, Jan. 8.

The exercise was designed to test the ability of participants to respond to a simulated event that resulted in casualties and involved an unknown substance, allowing the group to refine tactics and procedures for real-world contingencies.

The 82nd CST's primary mission is to strengthen local and regional terrorism response capabilities in events known or suspected to involve weapons of mass destruction.

U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Joseph Baumann, 82nd CST reconnaissance NCO in charge, said the exercise began when a member of his team received a call from the South Dakota National Guard Joint Operations Center regarding an unknown substance that caused a fatality in a facility near Camp Lancer. The event fired the response team into action.

"Whenever we respond to an unknown substance that is believed to have caused loss of life, the most important thing is the safety of our surveyors and other personnel in the affected area," Baumann said. "So when we arrive on scene, we want to make sure and help identify the unknown substance and ensure the surrounding area is clear of any biological hazards."

U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Kerry Slaba, 82nd CST medic, was one of the responding survey members during the exercise. Slaba said he and two other members from the 82nd CST entered the building to collect samples of the substance and bodily fluid from the victim, standard procedure for 82nd CST members.

"We knew there was a fatality and that the individual who died had recently started a new type of supplement," Slaba said. "Before arriving on scene, we used that and other information gathered to theorize that the symptoms were due to heavy metal poisoning which can occur when certain natural supplements are consumed."

Slaba added that the exercise sharpened his skills and ensured he and his fellow team members are prepared physically and mentally for any real-world incidents.

"We try to prepare as much as we can for these types of scenarios," Baumann said. "How we respond in training is just as important as how we respond during an actual incident. This exercise allowed us to work together with Ellsworth Airmen and refine our skills in a joint environment."

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