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Marine Corps Air Station Miramar

Into the danger zone: MCAS Miramar ARFF conducts HAZMAT exercise

By Cpl. Jake McClung | Marine Corps Air Station Miramar | May 21, 2018

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Marines and first responders with Marine Corps Air Station Miramar Aircraft Rescue and Fire Fighting (ARFF), the Provost Marshal’s Office and MCAS Miramar Fire Department conducted a chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and high-yield explosive (CBRNE) threat exercise at MCAS Miramar, Calif., May 17, 2018.

The exercise simulated a bioterrorism attack on MCAS Miramar using a disease both animals and humans are susceptible to.

According to Master Sgt. Marcos Martinez, the staff noncommissioned officer for ARFF, this exercise was important because it allowed cooperating units to improve response times, validate standard operating procedures and achieve annual training requirements.

“During the exercise, we took samples from all of the dry filter units and they came back positive for Tularemia,” said Lance Cpl. Luis Da Luz, a hazardous material (HAZMAT) entry team technician with ARFF. “It is important that we know how to respond to incidents like this because we are very close to the San Diego population.”

Marines with ARFF’s HAZMAT response team collected samples from the dry filter units and soil samples in the affected area before sending them to a lab where they tested positive for Tularemia, a disease often used in bioterrorism attacks as it affects animals and humans.

This exercise gave Marines and first responders a chance to rehearse and evaluate their incident command protocols, first responder immediate actions, communication protocols, incident command interface with an emergency operations center and orchestrate cooperation between MCAS Miramar’s first responders.

Military police officers with the Provost Marshal’s Office at MCAS Miramar contributed to the exercise by posting security around the contaminated area, reducing people’s exposure to the HAZMAT. Also, MCAS Miramar’s Fire Department performed technical decontamination operations on the HAZMAT response team, further preventing the disease’s spread.

“These Marines are properly trained and ready for any incident or emergency that pops up,” said Sgt. Travis Atkinson, a station captain for the exercise with MCAS Miramar ARFF. “They are well equipped and qualified for whatever HAZMAT situation that could possibly take place on this base.”
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