On Feb. 14, members of the Wyoming National Guard’s 84th Civil Support Team participated in an exercise with the Cheyenne Police Department bomb squad and the Laramie County Sheriff’s Office joint explosive ordinance disposal unit, at the Sherard Water Treatment Plant.
During the exercise, the teams were given two scenarios that called for the entities to work together to fulfill the mission of homeland readiness.
“This exercise is the homeland mission,” said Lt. Col. Holly Shenefelt, 84th CST commander. “This is working within our community with our community partners.”
The CST plays a unique role in homeland readiness and specializes in chemical, radiological, and biological responses within Wyoming.
The city/county’s team specializes exclusively in detecting, evaluating and rendering safe suspected improvised explosive devices, incendiary devices, explosives, explosive chemicals, pyrotechnics, ammunition and weapons of mass destruction within Laramie County.
The possibility of these two organizations working together in a real-life situation may become a reality, making it vital to build a working relationship beforehand.
“We always need to practice the ‘what ifs’,” said Shenefelt. “With the uncertainty of the environment we live in today, we want to be ready for the real world situations.”
For the first scenario, the water treatment plant workers were doing a routine sweep of the plant and found an explosive detonator attached to three chlorine tanks. Since this scenario had an explosive detonator and involved a chemical, it called for a response from both teams.
During the second scenario, the teams were forced to once again work together when two 55-gallon drums filled with organic phosphates were found next to an underground water storage container with a pump and tamper-proof device. If this pump were to be activated, it would put chemicals into the Cheyenne water supply, which could make large portions of the population ill and even be fatal for the young and elderly.
“This exercise is realistic and plausible,” said Capt. Casey Henry, 84th CST deputy commander. “It exercised both teams and forced them to think outside their lane and work together.”
These scenarios proved to be challenging and brought to light the need for clear communication between the organizations. The exercise also gave the two entities an opportunity to update standard operational procedures when it comes to joint entries on tactics operations. This will allow the organizations to work more cohesively in the future.
“God forbid if we’ve never done something down this road before something actually happened,” Henry said.
In the future, the CST hopes to continue to build a relationship with the bomb squad by conducting more joint-exercises.