Maryland National Guard regiments team up for hazmat training

The Maryland National Guard's 231st Chemical Company and 175th Civil Engineering Fire and Emergency Services Flight recently conducted their first-ever joint hazmat training exercise, the Guard said on Thursday.

The exercise took place at Warfield Air National Guard Base in Middle River, Md., on February 8-9. The 231st contacted the 175th fire department this past fall about training that could help both units to be prepared for man-made and natural disasters.

"(This is) the first time that we've done any joint training with another branch," Air Force Master Sgt. Joel McCroy, the assistant chief of training for the 175th Civil Engineering Fire and Emergency Services Flight, said. "Most of our members have deployed to joint bases and worked in a joint environment, so it just made sense to include joint training into what we do."

The regiments trained in four different stations: troop decontamination using mission oriented protective posture level four, familiarity with the Air Guard's equipment used to detect chemical, biological and radiological materials, single channel ground and airborne radio system training and fixed-wing aircraft decontamination.

The soldiers used a retired A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft to conduct realistic training without taking an aircraft out of operation. This freed the craft up to do flights and minimized potential damage.

The training gave the two organizations the opportunity to learn different acronyms, ranks and certain ways of doing things.

"I hope we can do some more (training) in the future," McCroy said. "Maybe we can expand it to some other things; we already discussed the possibility of a field exercise in the future."

The National Guard said that training in a joint environment allows servicemembers to learn best practices, build relationships, increase skills in an unfamiliar environment and work with different equipment.