Civilian emergency personnel receive special training

By Lesley Jenkins
Star Staff

The 80th Division of the U.S. Army Reserve conducted a prototype training session for civilian emergency personnel on August 9 at Virginia Highlands Community College in Abingdon, Va. Personnel from police, fire and rescue departments trained on the Homeland Security Advisory System.
   The system emphasizes recognizing, responding, and reacting to biological and chemical incidents, personal decontamination, wearing of chemical protection mask and suits and decontamination of vehicles.
   Planning Director of Carter County, Chris Schuettler, is Sgt. First Class of the 1-320th Chemical Unit of the 2nd Brigade of the 80th Division. The 1-320th Chemical Training Unit worked with the Army Reserve to design the Operation First Response.
   "This training shows civilians how we do stuff and how we operate that equipment," said Schuettler. During the training, personnel were given hands-on experience with false reading chemicals to use the detection equipment.
   Pairing the 1-320th chemical training experts with the community's first responders is a logical and winning combination. The goal is to build a partnership of training sharing the military's basic common skills to enhance community response, according to Lt. Col. William C. Wampler Jr., Brigade Executive Officer.
   The 1-320th Unit is based in Abingdon, Va. Among the participating counties in the August 9 session were Washington County, Va., Scott County, Va., and City of Bristol, Va. Sgt. 1st Class Schuettler said Carter County was interested in participating in the training also. Any county, city or specific emergency unit can participate after contacting the 1-320th at 1-800-209-5402 and scheduling a training session.
   The next training will be in Roanoke, Va., on September 14. The 1-320th will possibly travel to the location of the area that wants training for convenience purposes, or meet in a central location if more than one county is registered.
   The military equipment used for the training is surplus, and can be purchased by emergency personnel. The equipment has either been updated by the military or can no longer be used, but is still adequate for civilian use. If the military has an equipment surplus, it becomes available for purchase.
   According to Lt. Col. Wampler, the training is the prototype for future training sessions which the 80th Division hopes to expand throughout Virginia.