(Via Ho’okele News)
Story and photo by Staff Sgt. Alexander Martinez
15th Wing Public Affairs
Members of the 96th Air Refueling Squadron (ARS) conducted emergency preparedness training Sept. 5, ensuring they are able to operate in a chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear contaminated environment.
With assistance from the 15th Operations Support Squadron air-crew flight equipment section and the 15th Maintenance Group, 96th ARS members were able to practice using their protective equipment so that in the event of a real-world CBRN attack, they are prepared.
“Today is very important because we don’t have many opportunities to train in this equipment,” said Capt. Richard Brown, 96th ARS. “The important thing about this training is that we work out any issues and get it right the first time so we’re ready.”
Unlike common CBRN individual protective equipment, aircrew members use a special system, the aircrew eye and respiratory protection system (AERPS), which ensures they don’t contaminate the inside of the aircraft. The equipment includes a motorized breathing system that pumps air into their filtered gas mask, a plastic hood, two layers of gloves, plastic booties over their boots, and a clear plastic body bag that ensures full-body coverage of their flight suit.
At the aircraft, maintenance technicians did their part in the training by assisting aircrew members into the KC-135 Stratotanker where the aircrew practiced unhooking from the AERPS and hooking into the aircraft’s oxygen system. After exiting the aircraft, the aircrew members made their way to the aircrew contamination control area where AFE Airmen were ready for the decontamination process.
“We’re out here helping the air-crew practice and become familiar with the decontamination process,” said Tech. Sgt. Ryan Hunt, 15th OSS AFE. “This helps them stay prepared and helps us train our people as well.”
AFE members set up the ACCA in a condensed area, but normally the ACCA stations would be spread out over the length of a football field and positioned in compliance with wind direction in order to ensure a successful decontamination. Each station included detailed instructions on how to de-contaminate the aircrew member with the last station allowing them to remove their gas mask.
Brown said the main reason for the training is for preparation of an upcoming unit compliance inspection but added that this training is valuable to have.
“We might be able to practice once more before the inspection, but this training is extremely valuable to have, regardless,” he said. “We also practice flying with this equipment in our simulator, so all of this training keeps us up to date and prepared.”