DAVIS-MONTHAN AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. --
The 355th Civil Engineer Squadron hosted its annual hazardous material workshop at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona, March 25, 2021.
As an annual training requirement for any HAZMAT Response Team, this event serves as a unique opportunity to promote safety and cross-unit cohesion.
“This event builds camaraderie through splitting up the units and getting to know each other by learning another unit’s roles and responsibilities,” said U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Patrick Thomas, 355th CES Fire and Emergency Services non-commissioned officer in charge of training and logistics. “If an emergency were to happen, it wouldn’t be the first time we’ve seen each other and got hands on different pieces of equipment.”
The event had a combined 20 trainers and 70 trainees from the 355th CES Fire Emergency Services Flight, 355th CES Explosive Ordnance Disposal Flight, 355th Medical Group Bioenvironmental Engineering Flight, 355th CES Emergency Management Flight, 162nd MDG Bioenvironmental Engineering Flight and the 162nd CES Fire Emergency Services Flight during the two-day event.
“Each unit brings something unique to the HAZMAT Response Team from equipment and knowledge to personality,” Thomas said. “We did the training in the stall area where we had plenty of space and resources to work with.”
The training had six different work stations, each of which represented a different unit present during the event. Station one and two consisted of Emergency Management and Bioenvironmental Engineering, which showcased equipment ranging from a Geiger counter to basic medical equipment. Station three was EOD, which showcased some equipment used to scan for possible ordnances. Station four was used to teach trainees how to enter full hazmat gear. Station five and six were used to properly showcase the decontamination process.
“Promoting safety and teamwork go hand-in-hand,” said Jason Rice, 355th CES Fire and Emergency Services lead firefighter. “Although the number one priority will always be safety, it’s equally important to know and understand the value of teamwork.”
Hazardous material emergencies can cause harm in many ways to include; people, the environment, critical infrastructure and property. In 2020, the 355th CES Fire and Emergency Services Flight responded to 20 hazardous material incidents on base.
“First responders are a special group of folks that pride themselves on being able to handle any situation that is thrown at them,” Rice said. “With that being said, the only way we can achieve this success is by training, training and more training.”
The U.S. Air Force understands the importance of safety and the 355th Wing ensures the safety of its Airmen by consistently training and keeping them ready for tomorrow’s fight.