Surviving the mask

  • Published
  • By Capt Penny Carroll
  • 127th Public Affairs
Airmen of the 127th Wing spent time during their August drill getting familiar with the contents of the C-Bag, which contains their chemical warfare protective equipment. The opportunity to familiarize the airmen with the equipment came during a hands-on survival skills training held on August 13.

Contents of the C-bag include mission oriented protective clothing items, from the rubber overboots to the MCU-2A/P, or gas mask. After familiarization with the equipment and the Airman's Pamphlet, the Airmen donned all their gear and spent time outdoors going through several learning stations.

"We have the class suit up using the buddy system and then go through stations where they learn to wear the mask correctly, use the drinking tube, wash their masks, and go through a variety of transition points," explained SSgt. Beth Vandriessche, emergency management technician with the 127th Civil Engineer Squadron. 

The classes are purposely kept to a small size in order to ensure each Airman participates in the hands-on experience.  The small classes also lend to necessary post attack reconnaissance, or PAR, Team Training for all involved.

"Usually, only 2 to 4 people go out on a PAR sweep at a time," Vandriesschesaid.  "By keeping this group training small, each of these Airmen gets familiar with the PAR team duties, the equipment and in cordoning off a UXO and calling in possible contamination."

Getting Airmen used to wearing the equipment correctly for extended periods of time is a necessary part of the survival skills training; however these Airmen spent only about 30 minutes in their gas masks.  But, SSgt. Vandriessche points out, while the gas mask and equipment are important life-saving necessities, just being "observant to the obvious is one of the key factors to any survival scenario.  We try to emphasize that in this training, too."