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Endless cycle for CST shows professionalism and work ethic

Staff Sgt. Jordan Cowart, Asst. Operations Non-Commissioned Officer, 10th Civil Support Team, awaits decontamination following entry into a training lane in Bellevue, on June 16, 2022. Photo credit: Peter Chang

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Following a chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear or high yield explosive (CBRNE) event, seconds could mean the difference between life and death. That's why readiness is critical for a National Guard Civil Response Team.

"To me a CST, their main job is to protect the public from a weapon of mass destruction," said Carrie Poore, advanced CBRNE training branch chief with the U.S. Army. "They have to do their job in such a way that is technically defendable, as well as sounds but also safely."

On June 15 and 16, 2022, members of the Washington National Guard's 10th CST teamed up with the FBI, Bellevue Fire Department and the U.S. Army Edgewood Chemical Biological Center to conduct joint training and become familiar with operations among the different groups.

"This whole process, the repetitions, over and over again, of the whole team together is important. They need to be able to all perform their functions in order to be successful," said Poore. "That isn't just this CST, but all CSTs."

For much of the last six years, the 10th CST has not had a chance to reset and rest, often going from trainings to supporting events or responses back to trainings. The endless cycle is a testament to the professionalism and the work ethic of the members of the 10th CST.

"We have worked major events all across the country, multiple Presidential inaugurations, large sporting events, parades, local festivals and fairs, supported the COVID-19 pandemic all while also responding to life threatening disasters with our first responder partners," said Lt. Col. Wes Watson, commander of the 10th CST. "Like other units, this team has turn over, members move on to other great and wonderful things, so it is critical for us to make sure that we are keeping our new members up to speed and getting them trained for anything and everything."

Being a specialized unit that deploys to weapons of mass destruction hazards and other chemical, biological and radiological incidents, the 10th CST members know it is a matter of time before they get a call to support a mission.

"You have to practice how you play, if a real world situation were to happen, we need to have practiced how we are going to mesh together," said 1st Lt. Onyinyechukwu Okolie, science officer with the 10th CST. "In case a real world event was to happen we can react quicker and better because we have practiced together."

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