ND National Guard trains for the worst: radioactive accidents & biological attacks

FARGO, N.D. – For Master Sergeant Kristi Erickson, a supervisor of the North Dakota National Guard’s 119th Wing Emergency Management Team, detecting hazardous radiation materials isn’t her day job.

That’s what the soldiers at the 81st Civil Support Team do instead. They’re trained to respond to incidents ranging from radioactive accidents to biological attacks. If a really terrible accident happened in North Dakota, Kristi and her team need to be prepared to help the 81st out.

“We would augment them to the best of our ability, ” Emergency Management Superintendent MSgt. Kristi Erickson said.

That’s why the two groups are training together in a simulated exercise.

“We know that if a situation arises that having these training opportunities to get familiar with each other and be able to work together helps tremendously when we have to do this in a real situation,” Commander of the 81st Civil Support Team Lieutenant Colonel Patrick Flanagan said.

The event kicked off with Moorhead firefighters detecting Gamma radiation from a simulated explosion.

Right away Kristi and her team suited up and then conducted a thorough scan of what they called the Hot Zone looking for the source of the radiation.

“If we go to fast, there’s the possibility that we may miss something, or misanalyze something. Time is essential, but the protection of our responders is of utmost importance as well.” Lt. Col Flanagan said.

“They try to identify the radioactive sources and then come up with a plan to see how far the radiation will spread and see if there is any danger to the public.” MSgt. Erickson explained.

And while responding to a radioactive incident may only be a small portion of Kristi’s job, she’s thankful for the training.

“Working with them today has just showed that there are little intricacies in our shop and training that we can improve on. This training we did today is monumental,” Msgt. Erickson said.

The event was part of a multi-agency exercise going on throughout the week called Vigilant Guard.

Categories: North Dakota News