Ohio National Guard News

Civil support team proves its worth;
U.S. Army North validates Ohio CST

Story and Video by 2nd Lt. Paul Stennett, Ohio National Guard Public Affairs
Photos by Staff Sgt. Michael Carden,
Ohio National Guard Public Affairs

Members of the Ohio National Guard's 52nd Civil Support Team conducted a validation exercise in Portage County this summer.
The 52nd is evaluated every 18 months to certify and validate the team’s ability to properly respond in support of civil authorities.

Members check the readings on their detection instruments. Members wash residue off of a simulated casualty.
Members evaluate a simulated casualty. A member inspects for dangerous substances.

RAVENNA, Ohio (09/01/15) — Members of the Ohio National Guard 52nd Civil Support Team underwent a training and proficiency evaluation Sept. 1 at the Portage County Regional Airport.

The 52nd Civil Support Team (CST) is evaluated every 18 months to certify and validate the team’s ability to properly respond in support of civil authorities after a terrorist attack, or intentional or unintentional release of nuclear, biological, radiological materials or toxic or poisonous chemicals.   

Ryan Shackelford, director of Portage County Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, said, “having assets like this in our state significantly strengthens our ability to respond to an all-hazards environment.”

Maj. Shane Harlor, plans officer for the Ohio National Guard Homeland Response Force (HRF), facilitated the training and planning of the exercise for the CST with U.S. Army North.

“If called by local authorities and supported by the governor,” Harlor said, “they will come in and assess to figure out what is actually inside there and what course of action needs to be implemented.”

The CST can be requested by any organization that does not have the equipment or capabilities to detect and identify hazardous agents. The CST is part of the larger HRF mission to respond to any major catastrophic event and provide the necessary lifesaving capabilities within hours of an incident.

“The call for support, once funneled through the National Guard and pending the governor’s approval, determines if they will be sent out to an area,” Harlor said.

The CST is made up of active Air and Army National Guard members who train and prepare to respond to any hazardous incident in support of civilian first responders.

CST personnel wear protective gear as they inspect sites suspected of contamination. Meticulously searching and scanning the area, the team uses some of the most sophisticated equipment in chemical detection.

With constant training year-round, the periodic validation is an opportunity for the 52nd CST to prove its worth.

“The team is constantly training across the nation to prepare for events,” Shackelford said. “Not having these assets would weaken our ability to meet the demands of catastrophes or large-scale events and overall public safety.

The CST provides an array of capabilities and services that locally may not be available among city and county first responders. In a last line of defense, it is the team’s responsibility to ensure that anyone exposed to such hazardous agents can safely and confidently return home to their loved ones without any concerns of exposing them to any harmful agents.

“We go through extensive training to not only go out and win wars, but to go out into Ohio and protect the citizens,” Harlor said.

With the highest marks during its most recent validation, the 52nd CST successfully completed, to standard, every aspect of the evaluation given by U.S. Army North.