National Guard Links with County Emergency Planning Team to Share Resource Information

The Maryland National Guard 32nd Civil Support Team (CST) was on the Garrett College campus last week to conduct mock incident trainings for responding to bio-hazardous threats. During this weeklong exercise the unit also met with members of the Garrett County Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC).

The National Guard's highly-trained CSTs, which exist in each state, investigate sites for chemical, biological, and radiological agents and advise and support local civilian responders during domestic emergencies.

The Garrett County LEPC functions under the county Office of Public Safety, which is responsible for developing and maintaining several emergency response plans for Hazard Mitigation and Hazardous Materials Response in addition to other public safety issues.

The members of the 32nd CST brought along their state-of-the art on-site laboratory to analyze and identify unknown substances and demonstrated their expertise in use of this equipment as they moved through a scenario of responding to a school-based bio-hazard emergency.

LTC Kevin Warren, leader of the Maryland National Guard’s 32nd CST, said this was the first time his team had been to Garrett County. “It is really important that we have this opportunity to be here and to meet with the local first responders. This allows us to become familiar with Garrett County’s resources and capabilities and know who we would be working with should we be needed,” he explained, adding: “If there is an emergency situation underway and we show up here to help, that is not the time to begin handing out business cards.”

Brad Frantz, director of the Garrett County Department of Public Safety and Emergency Management, also serves as chair of the LEPC. He and ten members of the Local Emergency Planning Committee met with, observed, and engaged in dialog with the National Guard team to learn as much as possible about the services available to Garrett County from the 32nd CST. “This is an excellent opportunity for us. I was not aware of the scope of what they can provide to support us in an emergency situation that is beyond our ability to handle locally. We are going to make plans in the future to hold more joint training and information sessions with them,” he said.

Jean Tressler, coordinator for Garrett College Continuing Education and Workforce Development, facilitated the training for the Maryland National Guard. As a member of the Garrett County LEPC she also participated in the joint informational sessions. “This was a very successful training event on many levels. The National Guard team members had a good venue for their training. Being able to observe and meet with members of this special unit gave our LEPC committee members an in depth picture of what the CST offers for support in emergency situations. It is also unquestionably beneficial that this team of military experts met with our local first responders and learned about our plans and resources,” she said.

For more information on the Local Emergency Planning Committee, persons may contact Frantz at 301-334-7619.