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84th Civil Support Team participates in joint exercise

Water treatment plant sign

On February 14, 2018 members from the 84th Civil Support Team and the Bomb Squad/ Laramie County Sheriff’s Office joint explosive ordinance disposal unit participated in a joint exercise at the Sherard Water Treatment Plant outside of Cheyenne, Wyoming. The exercise was designed to give the organizations an opportunity to develop a working relationship before being put into real-life situations that would call for a joint response (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Autumn Velez).

Bomb squad

Members of the Cheyenne Police Bomb Squad/ Laramie County Sheriff’s Office joint explosive ordinance disposal unit enter a room at the Sherard Water Treatment Plant during a joint exercise with the 84th Civil Support Team on February 14, 2018. During the exercise, these two organizations had to work together to decide the best course of action for dealing with a mock detonator on chlorine tanks, which warranted a biological and explosive hazard response (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Autumn Velez).

EOD robot

An explosive ordnance disposal robot enters a room containing a mock explosive detonator attached to chlorine tanks at the Sherard Water Treatment Plant, Cheyenne, Wyoming during a joint exercise between the 84th Civil Support Team and the Cheyenne Police Bomb Squad/ Laramie County Sheriff’s Office joint explosive ordinance disposal unit on February 14, 2018. In order to protect human lives, this robot was sent in to do reconnaissance before creating a plan of action (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Autumn Velez).

Explosive detonator

A mock explosive detonator is attached to chlorine tanks at the Sherard Water Treatment Plant outside of Cheyenne, Wyoming for a joint exercise between the 84th Civil Support Team and the Cheyenne Police Bomb Squad/ Laramie County Sheriff’s Office joint explosive ordinance disposal unit on February 14, 2018. For this specific scenario, the organizations had to work together to decide the best course of action to remove the detonator without creating an explosion of chlorine gas (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Autumn Velez).

Cheyenne, Wyo. --

On Feb. 14, members of the Wyoming National Guard’s 84th Civil Support Team participated in an exercise with the Cheyenne Police Department bomb squad and the Laramie County Sheriff’s Office joint explosive ordinance disposal unit, at the Sherard Water Treatment Plant.
During the exercise, the teams were given two scenarios that called for the entities to work together to fulfill the mission of homeland readiness.

“This exercise is the homeland mission,” said Lt. Col. Holly Shenefelt, 84th CST commander. “This is working within our community with our community partners.”

The CST plays a unique role in homeland readiness and specializes in chemical, radiological, and biological responses within Wyoming.

The city/county’s team specializes exclusively in detecting, evaluating and rendering safe suspected improvised explosive devices, incendiary devices, explosives, explosive chemicals, pyrotechnics, ammunition and weapons of mass destruction within Laramie County.

The possibility of these two organizations working together in a real-life situation may become a reality, making it vital to build a working relationship beforehand.
“We always need to practice the ‘what ifs’,” said Shenefelt. “With the uncertainty of the environment we live in today, we want to be ready for the real world situations.”
For the first scenario, the water treatment plant workers were doing a routine sweep of the plant and found an explosive detonator attached to three chlorine tanks. Since this scenario had an explosive detonator and involved a chemical, it called for a response from both teams.

During the second scenario, the teams were forced to once again work together when two 55-gallon drums filled with organic phosphates were found next to an underground water storage container with a pump and tamper-proof device. If this pump were to be activated, it would put chemicals into the Cheyenne water supply, which could make large portions of the population ill and even be fatal for the young and elderly.

“This exercise is realistic and plausible,” said Capt. Casey Henry, 84th CST deputy commander. “It exercised both teams and forced them to think outside their lane and work together.”

These scenarios proved to be challenging and brought to light the need for clear communication between the organizations. The exercise also gave the two entities an opportunity to update standard operational procedures when it comes to joint entries on tactics operations. This will allow the organizations to work more cohesively in the future.

“God forbid if we’ve never done something down this road before something actually happened,” Henry said.

In the future, the CST hopes to continue to build a relationship with the bomb squad by conducting more joint-exercises.