AL DHAFRA AIR BASE, United Arab Emirates (AFNS), Jan. 17, 2019 — The 380th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron Fire Department and Emergency Management flights conducted an outdoor hazardous material exercise at Al Dhafra Air Base, Jan. 4.
The exercise was designed to be a Department of Defense-level HAZMAT certification for three Airmen in the fire department and an annual refresher training for the emergency management flight. The Airmen were instructed to contain leaks on a pressurized chlorine cylinder, a one-ton cryo-tank, and a rail car, all after donning a Level-A suit.
The Level-A suit is a defensive suit designed to protect personnel from chemicals. The 380th ECES Airmen also wore overshoe boots, rubber gloves, and a self-contained breathing apparatus underneath.
With the combination of possible difficulties and problem solving, the teams learned that communication and team work gets the job done.
“Team-oriented training like this only bolsters our capability to respond,” said Senior Airman Adam Theriault, 380th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron force protection emergency manager. “The intricacies of communication are impossible to train on without actually putting on the suit and diving in. Communication always takes a nose dive when we get locked in a zip-lock bag while wearing a 16-pound tube on our back, while wearing a mask, and our visibility is restricted. It’s a unique situation where we quickly learn how to communicate properly.”
Staying ready comes natural to this dedicated team, as they’re always conducting various types of training.
“In order to be a warrior, one must train,” said Tech. Sgt. Christopher Dugger, 380th ECES firefighter and HAZMAT custodian. “The fire department does lots of training in all areas that range from fire ground tactics, airfield emergency operations, medical emergencies, rescue and confined space drills, vehicle extrication, HAZMAT operations, and of course, physical fitness drills. In order for the fire personnel to respond to any given emergency situation, we must train and continue to enhance our readiness.“
Members of the collective team brought specialized skillsets coming from different jobs, installations and experiences. For the 380th ECES as a whole, training always plays a critical role in their daily mission to stay ready and protect Al Dhafra AB and its people.
“The entire EM flight has been amazing to work with,” said Tech. Sgt. Brett Miller, 380th ECES assistant chief of fire and emergency services training. “We are blessed to have such a diverse group that is humble and able to learn and grow with us as a team. (Al Dhafra AB) is in good hands with this crew for sure!”