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GASMASK CONFIDENCE: Soldiers train in the gas chamber

Soldiers exit the gas chamber at the Tobin Wells training area during a gas chamber training here Tuesday. About 250 Soldiers assigned to 1st Battalion, 77th Armor Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, and 1st Battalion, 67th Armor Regiment, 3rd BCT, 1st AD, completed the annual training. Photos by Wendy Brown, Fort Bliss Bugle Managing Editor.

Soldiers exit the gas chamber at the Tobin Wells training area during a gas chamber training here Tuesday. About 250 Soldiers assigned to 1st Battalion, 77th Armor Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, and 1st Battalion, 67th Armor Regiment, 3rd BCT, 1st AD, completed the annual training. Photos by Wendy Brown, Fort Bliss Bugle Managing Editor.

By Wendy Brown,  Fort Bliss Bugle Managing Editor:

(El Paso, Texas, June. 8, 2017) Soldiers talked among themselves and made any number of offhand comments while waiting to go into the gas chamber at the Tobin Wells training area here Tuesday. Everyone had taken the training at least once before in basic training, but a certain amount of nervous anticipation hung in the air.

“Sarge, you turning on the air conditioning in there?” asked one Soldier in jest, referring to the gas chamber.

“Woo hoo. Let’s go run a mile,” said another Soldier after he donned his protective suit.

Soldiers take off their masks inside the gas chamber during training at the Tobin Wells training area here Tuesday.

Soldiers take off their masks inside the gas chamber during training at the Tobin Wells training area here Tuesday.

“One? Let’s make it two,” said his battle buddy next to him.

The most common comment though, the one more than one Soldier repeated almost word for word, was this one: “I really hope my gas mask works.”

That simple comment underscores why Army officials require Soldiers to take the training – where they not only enter a chamber filled with CS gas with their gas masks on, but take off the mask while still inside – once a year.

Soldiers exit the gas chamber during gas chamber training at the Tobin Wells training area here Tuesday.

Soldiers exit the gas chamber during gas chamber training at the Tobin Wells training area here Tuesday.

First Lt. Mike Fiorentino, assigned to 1st Battalion, 77th Armor Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, and the training’s officer in charge, said a large reason for the training involves building confidence in the equipment so Soldiers remain calm should they ever encounter a situation where they have to use their gas masks.

“One of the basic skills that Soldiers have to have is to be able to don their protective equipment and operate in a contaminated environment,” Fiorentino said. “(The training) shows them one, how to do it, and two, to have confidence that it would work in a real-life situation.”

About 250 Soldiers assigned to 1st Bn., 77th AR, 3rd BCT, 1st AD, and 1st Battalion, 67th Armor Regiment, 3rd BCT, 1st AD, completed the training Tuesday.

Soldiers put on their gas masks while lined up outside the gas chamber, and then entered and completed a series of exercises at Fiorentino’s direction. First, the Soldiers learned their gas masks did indeed work inside the gas-filled chamber. Then they learned how to break and clear the seal without receiving any effects from the gas. After that they took off their masks to feel what would happen without their masks.

CS gas – also known as compound 2-chlorobenzalmalononitrile, or tear gas, reacts with moisture to cause major discomfort in human beings, and when Soldiers came out of the chamber, most were red in the face, coughing and squinting to protect their eyes. Trainers immediately reminded them not to touch their faces – it would only rub in the substance and make the pain worse – and flap their arms to dissipate the gas particles.

 Spc. Elizabeth Gonzalez exits the gas chamber during gas chamber training at the Tobin Wells training area here Tuesday.

Spc. Elizabeth Gonzalez exits the gas chamber during gas chamber training at the Tobin Wells training area here Tuesday.

After about five or 10 minutes, the Soldiers appeared back to normal, but just in case anyone got hurt, a team of nine medics and one physician’s assistant assigned to 1st Bn., 77th AR, 3rd BCT, 1st AD, took advantage of the training to set up an aid station.

Sgt. 1st Class Jason Taylor, medical platoon sergeant, assigned to 1st Bn., 77th AR, 3rd BCT, 1st AD, said the medics’ primary intent was to practice setting up their aid station as quickly as possible. “This is a good training opportunity for us, with minimal staff but the same expectations so we can push ourselves a little harder,” he said.

Soldiers who completed the training didn’t need their assistance, and some, such as Staff Sgt. James Krill, said they’d do it again.

“It’s definitely something you don’t do every day,” Krill said, “but it’s definitely not as bad as you think it’s going to be.”

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Posted by on Jun 7 2017. Filed under Unit News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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