Marines and sailors with the Chemical Biological Incident Response Force based at Indian Head, Maryland, traveled to Guardian Centers, a training facility in Perry, Georgia, to participate in Exercise Scarlet Response 2017.
Scarlet Response is an annual exercise with a focus on developing the skills of the elements of CBIRF while integrating with each other in simulated disaster scenarios. The exercise, held March 20-25, is the largest annual event for CBIRF, and it tests the unit’s capabilities to react and respond to threats and disasters such as nuclear detonations.
When directed, CBIRF deploy and responds with minimal warning to a chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear or high-yield explosive threat or event to assist state, local or federal agencies and the geographic combatant commanders in the conduct of CBRNE response or consequence management operations, providing capabilities for command and control; agent detection and identification; search, rescue and decontamination; and emergency medical care for contaminated personnel, according to the CBIRF’s website.
During the first two days of the exercise, the Marines from CBIRF trained in their specific jobs, such as decontamination, with sources available at the training facility.
“The way we prepare for events like Scarlet Response and real-world incidents is we set up our full site, which is two tents; one ambulatory, one none-ambulatory and a force protection line for CBIRF responders and first responders alike,” said Sgt. Robert Grodzicki, a decontamination section leader with CBIRF.
“We also just finished the advanced decontamination course at guardian centers,” Grodzicki added. “They threw all kinds of wound patterns and stuff like that, so that we can provide better care to the casualties that we’d receive.”
After they completed the job-specific training, he said, unit members began to rotate into different specialties in CBIRF, and eventually integrate each other’s skills.
“The way we work with the other sections hand-in-hand in CBIRF, is the extraction platoon brings us casualties and the identification detection platoon provides us with information so that we understand how to appropriately decontaminate casualties that we receive,” Grodzicki said. “Medical is with us to provide what help we need with the casualties we’re presented with upon completion of decontamination to the medical tent.”
The Marines develop a better understanding and appreciation for each other’s skills, according to Cpl. Gerardo Cuevas, an extractor with CBIRF.
“We got Marines who are not extractors, and we brought them into our world and showed them what to do,” Cuevas said. “It’s important because I get to appreciate [the units] more than before and I get to assist the unit and be a better asset for the unit. Instead of just picking up a casualty, I can make ways for other Marines to pick up other casualties and support them.”
Guardian Centers provides CBIRF with resources and a site that allows them to test their skills in ways not available to them normally, according to Sgt. Cody Bennett, assigned to Technical Rescue Platoon.
“This week, we’re doing deep trench [training], which we don’t have the opportunity to do that often because our trenches in Maryland are eight-feet deep instead of 12 feet,” Bennett said. “It allows us to go off our own baseline and exceed what we were used to working with, and what we’re capable of doing.”
Grodzicki said the exercise presents the unit an opportunity to train in large sustained operations with role players to act as casualties.
“Some of them have small acting backgrounds so they can make it as realistic for my Marines as possible so when something happens in real life, we’re better prepared,” he said.
The Marines will apply the cross training and lane training they performed in the preliminary days to conduct a 12-hour field operation, testing their skills further in realistic scenarios.
“The way I see cross-training is the way I see the in general: every Marine is a rifleman,” Cuevas said. “Every Marine is [expected] to pick up a rifle and go into combat. It’s the same way with CBIRF. At the end of the day, we all have to be able to pick up the job.”
By Marine Corps Sgt. Terence Brady