Monday, April 9, 2012

BMT: The Gas Chamber

During the 4th Week of Training, all of the exciting, hands-on training comes your way.  Look for CBRNe on the calendar.  Why?  In layman's terms, it means you're going to the gas chamber!

CBRNe stands for chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and the "e" either stands for explosives or enhanced conventional weapons (IEDs).  The training you receive out there is essential knowledge prior to BEAST, as you'll learn how to properly don and doff Mission Oriented Protective Posture gear (also known as chem gear).  

You'll board the bus to the CBRNe training site with your sister/brother flight, wearing PT gear, carrying your trainer weapon, donning your "spidey glasses" (gas mask inserts, for those who wear glasses) and carrying your duffle bag with your ABUs inside.  That morning our MTI stressed not to eat or drink any food items containing dairy products for breakfast.  Supposedly dairy products were likely to increase your chances of experiencing nausea after you emerge from the gas chamber.  I trusted him, so we stayed away from all of it!

[Source: Basic Video Productions]
When we arrived, we stored our weapons and began moving through the first building where we were issued all of our chemical gear.  Your gear, which you will leave there after the exercises, consists of rubber overshoes, a hooded jacket, a pair of pants, glove liners, rubber gloves, and your gas mask (in its carrier).  The gas mask is the only thing that you'll take back to the squadron with you.
You'll head under a large covered shelter, where you'll sit in flight formation with your dorm chief up front.  You'll be given instructions in how to properly don your chem gear, where all of the closures are on the suit, and how to don/doff your gas mask.  After that, you'll be taught how to do buddy checks, which are exactly what they sound like.  After you put on your own gear, you'll check your wingman's gear, assisting them with their mask in particular.  You'll learn about MOPP levels, which indicate how much gear you need to have on at that particular time, and the various alarm colors (green, yellow, red, black) and what to do in each instance.

Source: [Basic Video Productions]
Finally, once you've learned how to properly wear all of your gear and have ensured that there's a good seal with your gas mask, you'll prepare to enter the gas chamber!  You'll line up in rows, advancing when the instructors tell you to do so.  You'll file into the room and line up around the walls, facing the center.  You'll see the gas start to seep out of a structure in the center.  The instructor will have you go through a series of head movements, which are designed to check the seal on your mask again, or so I've been told.  As the time passed, I could feel my hairline starting to burn, around the edges of my mask.  One at a time, you'll be told to remove your mask give your reporting statement, and walk out of the door.  If you ran, you'd have to go back.  Most trainees mumbled or raced through their statements as quickly as possible, then walked briskly out of the room as fast as they could.

Once outside, you had to hold your arms out in a T and walk back to your belongings.  You were not to touch your face, just to keep blinking so that your tears would clear them out.  All I wanted to do was keep my eyes tightly closed at that point, but I tried to blink as best as I could.  Some trainees throw up after leaving the chamber or their noses run out, but we didn't have too many issues with that, at least none that I saw.  Back at your duffle, you'd remove your chem gear.  There were also large sinks outside to wash your hands and face.  You put your ABUs back on (over your PT gear, if I remember) and prepared for more training!  Ladies, this is also when you put your hair back up in a bun, since it has to be down while you're wearing the gas mask.

CBRNe training is also the first time you'll have an MRE for lunch.  At this point, it's novel and exciting.  You won't be given long to eat lunch on the bleaches under the covered area, but everyone will race through their food, sharing items, and hoping for candy.  Yes, candy.  It'll be the first time you've have junk food in weeks!  The excitement over MREs will die once you finish up BEAST, since you'll eat them every day for breakfast and lunch.  It gets old, trust me.

The remainder of the day is spent reviewing the Airman's Manual (AFPAM 10-100) and learning about IEDs - how you can spot them, the different types, etc.  They have a display of various types of IEDs and a broken down vehicle on display, so you can look for various IED "giveaways."  The end of the day was spent on an IED trail where we applied our knowledge and tried to spot IEDs alongside the edge of the road.

CBRNe training is an essential part of your education at BMT.  It is a required training in order for you to go to BEAST, so if you miss it (due to a doctor's appointment) your MTI will have to reschedule you for another training with another squadron.  Try not to miss any of your required classes, as they'll just put you further and further behind, and jeopardize your timely graduation.

Don't be too worried about the gas chamber, as it's over in a matter of minutes and the percentage of gas in comparison to a real chemical weapon is miniscule.  Mull that one over for a bit on the ride back to the squadron!

[Yes, these photos were from my flight's trip to the gas chamber, although I'm not pictured in any of them.]

5 comments:

Mrs. Wookie said...

So I may be sick and twisted but I actually love MRE's! We used to have them issued to us when I was a wildland firefighter in my summers-between-college days. What's cheaper? Packing a lunch for night-shift firefighters or throwing them an MRE? Chili, chicken tetrazini, short ribs...yum. :)

Natalia said...

Sounds so civilized compared to our Gas Chamber day! The whole CBRN day was terrible, I've been working on a post about it...

Amy Brown said...

My husband LOVES MRE's. He brought some home from a week away at training, and he's been snacking on them. Even took one to his Civi job for lunch. *shudders* I just can't, lol.

I'm your newest follower from the Mil-blogging buddies on FB. Have a great week!

Bryan Yates said...

The PT gear is for those who are in BMT over the summer.
If you're there during the colder months, you put the MOPP gear on over your ABU's. The same applies for BEAST.

Erin said...

@Bryan - How'd that work out? Even with it being "cold," it had to be unbearable at times!