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Minnesota National Guard
55th Civil Support Team participates in multi-organization maritime response training

From a logistical standpoint, the state of Minnesota is particularly valuable; it runs along an international border with Canada, connects to the Midwestern Grain belt of the United States, and utilizes the St Lawrence Seaway along with the Mississippi river for seafaring transportation With this advantageous intermodal platform, comes great responsibility in protecting it Being able to respond to land, air, and sea security operations calls for specialized training which is exactly what the 55th Civil Support Team (CST) was simulating on Thursday in Duluth, Minnesota

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In conjunction with other local and national operatives including: the US Coast Guard, FBI, Duluth Fire Department special operations team, and the Department of Energy, the 55th CST conducted an exercise involving a rapid response call to a radiological hazard aboard an underway ship Each team provides unique capabilities in handling certain situations In this particular event, it was absolutely vital for each entity to perform their tasks flawlessly considering the operation's limiting factors

The training vessel provided was retired US Coast Guard Cutter, Sundew, harbored in Duluth as its port-of-call The scenario was a response call to four crewmembers aboard the ship that were showing signs of radiological sickness As a multi-organizational effort, the response co-operative evacuated the patients to a local hospital, conducted a specialized sea-to-ship boarding and isolated the radiological threat with state of the art equipment "It is a unique, but highly likely event that our team could run into a scenario such as this considering Minnesota's unique characteristics" said Maj Tom Krenz, deputy commander of the 55th CST

Training aboard the Sundew does pose an array of real-world situations unlike those found in a land response operation Close quarters aboard the ship, and few options for evacuation in case of an emergency, meant that multi-command communication and teamwork would be crucial in this exercise mission

"You can't actually put a value on how great it is to train with the other agencies that are here today," said Captain Shawn Krizaj of the Duluth Fire Department "Communicating and training together is invaluable because it helps us see where each team is at and how they operate We get a chance to build relationships between agencies that, in the chance this would become a real world situation, would not already be established"

This type of training environment not only strengthens bonds between agencies, it also allows each team to take back the knowledge learned and correct any deficiencies they may have come across in the exercise Even with cold, wet conditions aboard a ship, it was clear that the 55th CST and the other agencies involved could focus on the mission at hand without giving any thought to the chilling elements As Minnesota's weather can be just as diverse as its geography, it is good to know that the 55th CST and the teams they work with can proficiently operate in whatever Minnesota may throw at them

Story by Air Force Staff Sgt Paul Santikko
Minnesota National Guard Public Affairs
Oct 18, 2012

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