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Minnesota National Guard
55th Civil Support Team Open House

A unique part of the Minnesota National Guard showed off its high tech equipment during an Open House on Friday, Oct 27

The 55th Civil Support Team goes about its business of protecting Minnesota's people and communities as a "first responder" quietly and very effectively The team could be responding to a strange cloud of gas drifting towards a packed Metrodome during a sporting event, a mail envelope leaking an unknown dry powder, or tens of people falling suddenly and violently ill at a political gathering These are times when the CST suddenly shows up and "Dares to go where others fear"

CST members, who must all live within one hour of their unit, race to the scene A portable command unit is likely to arrive on the scene first The Commander, LTC Matthew Snyder, together with local law enforcement officials, quickly assesses the situation He calls in his operations, communications, survey, medical and administrative/logistics team members

After visually evaluating what the threat appears to be, the team quickly gets into the nitty-gritty work of accurately assessing the hazard " which could be chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear in nature Any these substances could be used to kill or incapacitate large numbers of people

The survey team carefully collects samples and performs quick tests to narrow down the identity of the agent or substance The team might wear special "moon suits" to protect themselves from the threat The noxious air sample, liquid, powder or other substance is taken to a mobile Analytical Laboratory System that contains a full suite of analysis equipment, where more detailed tests are run At the same time, working out of their sophisticated communications vehicle, the CST team stays in constant communications with civilian and military authorities

Once the threat is identified, the CST team helps community responders determine the best way to manage a bad situation The decision could be to move all people and animals out of the area, to divert traffic away from the area, or to ensure people stay indoors until the danger is past

Commonly, the Federal Bureau of Investigation gets involved While the CST is concerned about health and safety, resolving the immediate threat, and supporting civil authorities, the FBI collects evidence that will be used to prosecute those responsible for the incident

Unique to the National Guard and mandated by law, the first Civil Support Team came on-board in 2000 Each state and US territory now has at least one Civil Support Team Their mission is to support the Governor and the Incident Commander Because these specialized teams are indispensable to homeland defense, a CST never deploys overseas " they can only operate within US territories

Teams are made up of Army and Air National Guard members who work under control of the State's Governor Team members receive hundreds of hours of high-tech training in order to do their very specialized jobs

The 55th Civil Support Team is collocated on the Minnesota Air National Guard's 133rd Airlift Wing base near Minneapolis-St Paul International Airport

By: Lt. Col. Ruth Anderson, using information from NGB Public Affairs CST fact sheet
Photo Gallery: Oct. 27, 55th Civil Support Team Open House

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