USS CARL VINSON, At Sea (NNS) -- Sailors assigned to USS Carl Vinson's (CVN 70) In Port Emergency Team (IPET) responded to an unprecedented suspicious-substance drill Sept. 9, when a postal clerk reported a curious white powder posing as a dangerous chemical agent sifting from a box in Vinson's mail handling room.
Consistent use of the new exercise will help tailor Carl Vinson's training agenda against chemical, biological or radiological (CBR) attacks while prepping first-response Sailors for a series of force-protection drills slated for October, said Vinson Fire Marshall Chief Warrant Officer 2nd Class Michael Mozdzierz.
"The threat of a CBR attack is more realistic today than it was three years ago, so I am glad we can introduce the new scenarios to the Sailors," he said. "We plan to do these on a regular basis with at least one drill each quarter."
Although Damage Control Training Team (DCTT) Sailors have yet to establish a solid grading scale for the suspicious-substance drills, IPET members met the primary objective with ease -- to stop or minimize the spread of the CBR substance.
First response IPET Sailors arrived to the scene in less than 60 seconds and successfully met all objectives in just 50 minutes. The fast-acting Sailors demonstrated proper sample taking, identification procedures, packaging methods, and they displayed the correct way to dispose of Anti-Chemical Protective Garments (ACPG). This effort spurred a huge response from Mozdzierz.
"I love it when they pay attention! This was their first hands-on experience outside of the classroom," he said. "If they don't pay attention in the classroom and mess up with training while on scene, then we can't move forward. After seeing how they took to the training and watching them react, I was very impressed. Now as we go, I can back up more and make the drills more difficult."
Members of Vinson's DCTT conduct more than 365 drills per year and achieve a passing average on more than 90 percent, said Mozdzierz. Few drills, however, demonstrate all aspects of battling a CBR attack, such as proper disposal of contaminated anti-chemical garments. The suspicious package drill helps balance this ratio by adding hurdles normally only found when dealing with biological warfare, essentially inviting Vinson Sailors into a new realm of mission readiness.
"The drill itself adds another dimension to our training plan by bringing the attack to the ship in a way we had previously not prepared for and places us in a better position to handle a real world threat, such as Anthrax," said DCTT member Personnelman 2nd Class (AW/SW) Tom McGreevy. "Drills in general reenforce the crew's reaction to a casualty to create a conditioned response. Practice makes permanent; you train the way you fight, and fight the way you train."
The Carl Vinson Strike Group is currently conducting their Composite Training Unit Exercise (COMPTUEX) off the coast of Southern California. COMPTUEX is an intermediate level exercise designed to forge the strike group into a cohesive fighting team.
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