JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- Effective Jan. 8, 2019, the 773d Civil Engineer Squadron implemented a newly-revised chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) defense training course at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson (JBER).
After JBER’s successful involvement in last year’s Air Force test trial, multiple adjustments have been made to the program. One of the key changes made embraces the reintegration of hands-on, in-person instruction, allowing Airmen to receive a more tailored learning experience.
“The newly revised training [being taught Air Force-wide] has a comparable style to courses in the past,” said U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Robbie Southard, 773d CES noncommissioned officer in charge of emergency management training. “There are quite a few valid changes, making it more relevant to the individual Airman.
“Next to eliminating the computer-based training (CBT), another change is the strategic type of information being provided, as well as the application of what is learned during the slide presentation,” he said. “Throughout this portion, participants will have the opportunity to actively demonstrate the knowledge they’ve gained during performance evaluations; applying directly what is learned immediately.”
The new course will also discuss traditional contamination control areas, which can require more than 10 people to man various stations, in addition to a new method of mission-oriented protective posture (MOPP) exchange processing. This innovative technique will now only require two individuals to process themselves and is now being adopted Air Force-wide.
“Based upon world-wide threats, we are adopting this MOPP exchange processing as an additional way of removing individual protective equipment faster,” Southards said. “What used to take more than six to eight hours can now be accomplished safely and effectively in under two.”
Renewal requirements for CBRN training have changed significantly throughout the years. The current time period for renewal is 18 months or less depending on the individual need. Although most service members will be required to attend the new course, computer-based training will still be offered to certain career fields.
“People will probably feel like this three to four hour class is longer than what they did before,” said Senior Airman Richard Blackburn, 773d CES Emergency Management journeyman and CBRN instructor. “Although it may seem challenging to take in all the information at once, it adds in an array of realism the other training lacked. The way we are able to teach the decontamination and exchange processing allows Airmen the ability to see what it is actually like to go through the procedures.”
Like most things learned and not used frequently, being able to differentiate between M-8 chemical detection paper and what liquid is presented can be a perishable skill. Instead of simply learning data, participants can now learn what to do with the knowledge they gain.
“As an alternative to providing scientific statistics of chemical agents, we have simplified the information in a way people can now understand how to use in a practical way,” Blackburn said. “Some of these practical changes allow us to go into greater depth making the information more relevant to the general population.”
An example of applicable information would be highlighting actual delivery methods used by our enemies. Additionally, the understanding of how chemical agents react to the human body, how to identify symptoms and initiate proper response procedures is also valuable material, Southards said.
During this portion of training there will be the reintroduction of a key element to CBRN defense called a nerve agent antidote kit. This is meant to help individuals know how to apply proper procedures, delaying the effects of certain agents if contaminated.
“Lastly, participants can expect to have more involvement with the emergency operations center, we want this to paint the bigger picture for our young service members making them a more lethal force” Southards said. “Overall, this course demonstrates our CBRN capabilities and allows us to provide a continually improved training to our Arctic Warriors and overall Air Force Community.”