Boise Civil Support Team makes a big boom at Boise State

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Sarah Pokorney
  • 124th Fighter Wing
A fizz, then a sharp crack echoes from the walls of the Taco Bell Arena , not unlike the pyrotechnics often seen and heard at rock shows in the arena. This explosion, accompanied by a puff of white smoke, didn't have masses of concert goers cheering but was effective hands-on training for federal, state, and local first responders.

The 101st Weapons of Mass Destruction Civil Support Team (CST) completed the Improvised Explosive Device (IED) Awareness and Search Course June 5-10 at the Boise State Taco Bell Arena and stadium with state and local first responders. They recognized and responded to homemade explosives (HME). The Intent of the course is to educate first responders on the history of HMEs, show what a HME assembly lab looks like, how to find them, and eliminate the threat.

"If we setup a lab and build these explosives then we know what to look for down range (in a deployed location)," said Lloyd Stading, instructor and President of Defense Services International, LLC.

The Boise CST team hosted the event and invited first responders from all over Idaho to attend this valuable training. There were Boise fire fighters from the regional response team four and Twin Falls/Jerome regional response team five in attendance as well as the national training manager for the CST working group; overall nearly 30 trainees.

Of 57 CST teams nationwide, the 22-member full-time Boise team is considered one of the best in the nation. They support civil authorities at domestic chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear or explosive incident sites by identifying hazardous agents or substances, assessing current and projected consequences, and advise on response measures.

"Of the 57 CST teams, I've worked with 49 of them and Idaho has one of the best nationwide," said Stading. "They reach out to other civil authorities and have worked hard to develop relationships."

The first days of the week-long training were focused on the history of domestic and foreign violent groups that produce these types of explosives. Then they were educated on the tools and materials used to construct the explosives. They setup mock bomb labs to help the trainees identify what a lab may look like. Terrorists can buy ingredients used to create the explosives like salt, stump remover, vegetable oil, and freezer packs, just to name a few, at local hardware and home improvement stores.

"All of the materials used in the making of our HMEs today were purchased locally in the last three days," said Stading. "When mixed, the explosives can look just like sugar."

The students constructed and ignited several types of HMEs in and around the arena and thereby demonstrated their knowledge, with the support of the arena administrators.

"This is great recognition training for our guys," said Boise CST 1st Sgt. Jeremey Hamrick.

The teams were put to the ultimate test at the end of the week when the instructors constructed mock HMEs and stashed them throughout the Bronco stadium for the first responders to seek out.

"Becoming familiar with how they make the devices and knowing what they look like, and how they work is very valuable," said Mike Kreiter, Group Officer for the region four team.

Michael Sather "Zeke," Deputy Commander for the 95th CST, and the national training chairman for the CST working group managed and coordinated the training program. He was there to ensure the CSTs are getting consistent, quality training. The trainers from Defense Services International LLC conduct 12 to 15 training courses annually across the nation.

"A standardized training plan prepares Soldiers and Airmen for all hazardous response," said Zeke. "All CSTs need to work together to ensure that they have similar skill sets and standard operating procedures."

The week of HME training was a valuable exercise that provided hands-on training for events that could take place locally or in a deployed location.

"Idaho's 101st CST adds specialized capability when needed by local first responders. A joint training event like this ensures cohesive support when an Incident Commander requests CST support," said Brig. Gen. Bill Shawver, Assistant Adjutant General, Idaho Air National Guard.