Illinois airmen participate in toxic chemical agent training

Six health service personnel with the National Guard's 182nd Medical Group recently completed a day-long toxic chemical agent course in Anniston, Ala.

The training focused on responding to terrorist attacks and natural disasters involving both conventional and chemical, biological, and nuclear agents. The six National Guard members participated in a mix of classroom teaching and hands-on exercises with detection gear and live nerve and biological agents, including sarin and anthrax.

"I was initially somewhat nervous about entering the live agent chamber," one of the participants said. "But within a few hours of the course, it became overwhelmingly apparent that the instructors were incredibly well-educated and practiced individuals, so I gradually became more and more excited for the experience."

The training took place at FEMA's Center for Domestic Preparedness (CDP) in Anniston. The CDP campus is the only federally-approved training center for weapons of mass destruction in the U.S. It provides training for free to state, local and tribal agencies in order to increase preparedness in the face of emergencies.

The airmen who participated in the training are part of the Illinois-based 182nd Airlift Wing's chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and high-yield explosives Enhanced Response Force Packages. The unit specializes in rescue operations in contaminated areas.