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21st WMD-CST Test PPE to Protect Guardsmen and Medical Staff

A New Jersey National Guard Soldier, 21st Weapons of Mass Destruction-Civil Support Team (WMD-CST), conducts a mask fitting test to an Airmen at a long term care facility, Andover N.J., May 8, 2020. The WMD-CST has been training Soldiers and Airmen on proper ways to wear personal protective equipment and conducting mask fitting test on them during the COVID-19 relief effort. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Spc. Michael Schwenk)

Tasked with one of the most important missions in the New Jersey National Guard, members assigned to the 21st Weapons of Mass Destruction Civil Support Team (WMD-CST) have been traveling to sites all throughout the state training Guardsmen and civilians in the proper wear of personal protective equipment (PPE) in support of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Headquartered out of Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, the unit’s mission is to support civil authorities at a domestic Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear high-yield Explosives (CBRNE) incident site by identifying CBRNE agents/substances, assessing current or projected consequences, advising on response measures, and assisting with appropriate requests for additional follow-on state and federal military forces.

WMD-CST members receive more than 650 hours of HAZMAT and high-tech training from agencies such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Department of Energy, the Department of Justice, and the Environmental Protection Agency.

“We’ve been sending unit members to long-term healthcare facilities and drive-thru testing-sites to ensure that Soldiers, Airmen and civilians are properly wearing, donning and doffing as well as, sanitizing their PPE to protect themselves and the civilians that we are supporting,” said Sgt. 1st Class William Camp, the non-commissioned officer in charge of the 21st WMD-CST.

The CST has also been conducting a N95 mask test on Soldiers, Airmen and civilians that verifies the proper fit and effectiveness of each individual mask.

“We introduce a sample into the air that can be tasted or smelled, then we have them don their mask and introduce a stronger sample to see if they can still taste it in the air. If they cannot, they have passed the fit test; if they can then they need to get a different size or change the mask,” explained Camp.

To date, the 21st Weapons of Mass Destruction-Civil Support Team has conducted approximately 550 mask fitting tests, as well as trained 300 personnel in the proper use of PPE in 7 different locations around the state.

“I enjoy doing my part to come out and help the state as we respond to this pandemic,” said Camp. “It makes me feel really good to see my Soldiers going out and fit testing all the Soldiers and Airmen that are on the frontlines working at these facilities and test-sites, to ensure their safety so when they go home to their families, they go home safely.”

Adapted from reporting by Spc. Michael Schwenk, New Jersey National Guard

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