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    Friday, September 20, 2019-5:47:32P.M.






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HSEM hosts inter-agency training by Guam’s 94th civil support team

(HSEM) — The CNMI Office of Homeland Security & Emergency Management under the Office of the Governor is gearing up for the CNMI’s only biological, nuclear full-scale exercise KONFITMA by hosting a series of training opportunities related to building an agency’s capabilities and improving personnel skillsets.

For the past two days, first responders from the Commonwealth Ports Authority, Customs, the Department of Commerce-ABTC Unit, the CNMI Judiciary Marshals, the Marianas Regional Fusion Center NODE and HSEM participated in a two-day training covering basic awareness of hazardous material handling and site characteristics of clandestine lab processes versus use of non-traditional lab ware in order to distinguish the differences between chemical, biological and home-made explosive collection.

Training participants pose for a group photo with Guam’s 94th Civil Support Team instructors after the training.  HSEM photoTraining participants pose for a group photo with Guam’s 94th Civil Support Team instructors after the training. HSEM photo

Participants also underwent hands-on training focusing on lessons learned from lectures conducted during the first half of the first day. Hands-on lab demonstrations were held on the second half of the first and second days where participants learned how to identify and collect possible chemical reactants and how to process them for safekeeping by demonstrating strategies rendering the less amount of harm to themselves, other first responders, bystanders and the environment. The practice of using crockpots and mason jars in lieu of traditional lab ware such as heaters and round-bottom glass flasks were also demonstrated during lab training. A harmful example involving the use of non-traditional lab ware occurred during last year’s “shake and bake” incident when crystal methamphetamine commonly known as “ice” was apprehended by responding personnel. During the incident, responders experienced nausea followed by vomiting after an unknown substance was found in the backpack of a suspect attempting to flee the scene.

The main intent for the training was to build confidence within first responders in their abilities to distinguish and differentiate certain lab processes constructed with non-traditional lab ware. Guam Army National Guard’s SFC Ivan G. Castro adds, “We’re doing this because it is a great force-multiplier…for us to build relationships and partnerships not just with military personnel, but with the civilian workforce as well. With Saipan being the closest to Guam, it puts us in a better position to work together by building that readiness posture and inter-agency cohesion so that in the event we have to assist with responding in the CNMI, responding agencies will be able to conduct assessment prior to our arrival. We hope to eventually bring this training to the CNMI on a quarterly basis. We’re grateful to be afforded the opportunity to work hand-in-hand with the CNMI, and look forward to KONFITMA.”

The training was conducted by Guam’s 94th Civil Support Team comprised of members of the Guam Army National Guard and the U. S. Air Force, and instructed by SFC Ivan G. Castro and TSgt. Brandon S. Santos.

HSEM’s KONFITMA is tentatively scheduled for February 2020.

Stay tuned for future announcements of more training opportunities from HSEM.