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386th ECES emergency management team responds to real-world HAZMAT material

SOUTHWEST ASIA (AFNS) -- The 386th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron emergency management team responded to unknown chemicals in unmarked barrels, May 29 and 30, 2018, at an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia.

When the 19 unmarked barrels were found - 13 at one site and six at another across base - emergency management got to work on a plan to examine and identify their contents.

“This didn’t differ very much from the exercises we conduct,” said Staff Sgt. Dallas Christian, 386th ECES emergency management plans NCO in charge, deployed from Ramstein Air Base, Germany. “We practiced everything we were going to do and it was smooth and went the way it was supposed to.”

Emergency management trains for these situations bi-annually and never know when a real-world scenario will happen, said Master Sgt. Terri Adams, 386th ECES emergency management flight chief.

“We had to come out to the two sites and look at the barrels to try and determine what we thought was in them,” Christian said. “This was the first time I’ve built an operations type plan, as well as the first time in my eight and a half years in the Air Force that I actually had to really do my job, which is a good thing.”

“Our detectors can break down chemicals and identify what they are based on their properties,” Adams said. “We found six barrels with chemical mixtures that we were unable to identify. We are going to work with a local laboratory to determine what those mixtures are.”

The EM team sampled 19 barrels for potentially harmful chemicals. There is no potential hazard from these chemicals to the base populace.

Of the 19 unmarked barrels, 15 were filled with corrosive rubber removal substances used to clean runways. The other four were sent off for testing.

Airmen from the base fire department, medical group, safety office and bio-environmental office were there to support the EM team as they conducted their tests.

“The team and all of the other units did excellent,” Adams said. “Nobody thought we would be able to go in and sample 19 barrels within a couple hours, but we did it and the results prove themselves. They got the job done and they rocked it.”