Marines, sailors complete training in Hansen gas chamber
June 18, 2006
CAMP HANSEN, Okinawa — “Gas! Gas! Gas!”
About 22 Marines and sailors with 3rd Medical Battalion, 3rd Marine Logistics Group, heeded that warning Thursday at the Camp Hansen gas chamber.
All Marines and sailors attached to Marine units are required to train annually with nuclear, biological and chemical protective gear and to use the equipment in a gas-filled environment.
Staff Sgt. Paul Gage, nuclear, biological and chemical chief for the battalion, said although Marines haven’t experienced nuclear, biological and chemical weapons in recent conflicts, “the threat is always there and we have to be prepared for it.”
The battalion’s annual training included classes on detection equipment and protective gear — a gas mask, protective suit, gloves and boots.
The Marines and sailors learned to use chemical detection kits by testing them on brake fluid.
Gage said the kits contain strips of material that detect the presence of a chemical but don’t show what kind of chemical it is. Since brake fluid contains petroleum, it shows positive for a chemical presence on the detection strips.
Armed with knowledge and protective gear, the Marines and sailors then headed to the Hansen gas chamber.
Chlorobenzylidene malonitrile, commonly called CS gas, is the gas of choice in Marine gas chambers. It is a nonlethal substance used as a riot control agent by the military and police, according to Marine officials.
“It’s like having a whole bunch of ant bites, but it also irritates the eyes and makes the mucus flow in your nose,” said nuclear, biological and chemical specialist Cpl. Jared Barron.
In the chamber, Marines practiced removing and replacing their gas masks in a gas-filled environment.
The training aims to familiarize Marines with the protective equipment and to give them confidence that it works, said Gage.
One of those Marines was Cpl. Joshua Christian, who was deployed to Iraq for 14 months.
“We need training like this,” he said. “You never know when it’s going to be real. It’s when you are in a situation like Iraq that you realize what all the training was for.”