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ATSO training reinforces use of protective gear

ATSO training June 27, 2018

Roll call is taken in the early morning hours to kick off Ability to Survive and Operate training at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, June 27, 2018. Forty Airmen participated in event that teaches them how to don protective gear in the event of a chemical, biological, radiologic or nuclear threat and how to perform their duties in the equipment. (U.S. Air Force photo by John Ingle)

ATSO training June 27, 2018

Senior Airman Nicole Cook, 82nd Force Support Squadron, lets a relatively cool Texas breeze cool her face after exiting a gas chamber where Airmen are exposed to an irritant in a gas chamber during Ability to Survive and Operate training at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, June 27, 2018. About 40 Airmen completed the morning-long training that prepares them for real-world scenarios and deployment mobility lines. (U.S. Air Force photo by John Ingle)

ATSO training June 27, 2018

Airmen walk out of a gas mask confidence building after they were able to understand the protection provided by a mask when exposed to a mild chemical agent during Ability to Survive and Operate training at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, June 27, 2018. The Airmen entered the structure with their gas masks on, but later removed them to experience the sensation of not have the protection of the mask and how a chemical agent could affect them. (U.S. Air Force photo by John Ingle)

ATSO training June 27, 2018

Staff Sgt. Anthony Abraham (right), 82nd Logistics Readiness Squadron, and 82nd Comptroller Squadron 2nd Lt. Geoffrey Gervase tape down a piece of M-8 paper to a perimeter post during Ability to Survive and Operate training at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, June 27, 2018. M-8 paper is used to detect chemicals such as nerve and blister agents that Airmen could be exposed to if such an attack were to occur. (U.S. Air Force photo by John Ingle)

ATSO training June 27, 2018

Staff Sgt. John Cofer, 82nd Medical Support Squadron, demonstrates the head-tilt, chin-lift maneuver during Ability to Survive and Operate training at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, June 27, 2018. Self-aid and buddy care, an essential part of survival for Airmen, is basic medical care given during life-and-limb situations until more advanced medical providers arrive. (U.S. Air Force photo by John Ingle)

ATSO training June 27, 2018

Capt. (Dr.) Joseph Simmerman (center), 82nd Medical Operations Squadron, adjusts the straps on a gas mask during Ability to Survive and Operate training at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, June 27, 2018. About 40 Airmen participated in the one-day event that tested their ability to put on protective gear and operate in a deployed environment. (U.S. Air Force photo by John Ingle)

ATSO training June 27, 2018

82nd Training Wing Public Affairs photojournalist Airman 1st Class Pedro Tenorio puts on a flak vest as part of MOPP level 2 requirements during Ability to Survive and Operate training at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, June 27, 2018. Forty Airmen from different areas on base were pulled together for an exercise that allowed them to practice putting on "mission oriented protective posture" equipment and then be able to operate in the gear. (U.S. Air Force photo by John Ingle)

ATSO training June 27, 2018

Staff Sgt. Ryan Sheppard, 82nd Security Forces Squadron, demonstrates a standing shooting position while wearing protective gear during Ability to Survive and Operate training at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, June 27, 2018. About 40 Airmen participated in the training session, which is used to teach them how and when to put on the gear properly and function in the thick suit to complete the mission if the need arises. (U.S. Air Force photo by John Ingle)

ATSO training June 27, 2018

Airman Bryson Roberts, 82nd Security Forces Squadron, grabs his packet of certificates and protective gear bag during pre-deployment processing during an exercise at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, June 27, 2018. Roberts and 39 other Airmen participated in Ability to Survive and Operate training, which gauged their proficiency to function during a chemical, biological, radiologic or nuclear threat or attack in a deployed environment. (U.S. Air Force photo by John Ingle)

ATSO training June 27, 2018
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Senior Airman Hailey Salyers (right), 82nd Medical Operations Squadron, assists 82nd Logistic Readiness Squadron Senior Airman Kristopher Kopiczak with his helmet strap as Airmen get into MOPP Level 2 gear at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, June 27, 2018. Airmen put on the MOPP gear, or mission oriented protective posture, during Ability to Survive and Operate training, which trains and gauges an Airman's ability to perform their duties in the protective gear. The equipment is put on in the event of a chemical, biological, radiologic or nuclear threat. (U.S. Air Force photo by John Ingle)

SHEPPARD AIR FORCE BASE, Texas – Forty Airmen arrived at Bldg. 2113’s loading dock in the early morning hours June 27, 2018, at Sheppard AFB to assess their readiness skills in five areas they could encounter in a deployed environment.

ATSO training June 27, 2018
Staff Sgt. Ryan Sheppard, 82nd Security Forces Squadron, demonstrates a standing shooting position while wearing protective gear during Ability to Survive and Operate training at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, June 27, 2018. About 40 Airmen participated in the training session, which is used to teach them how and when to put on the gear properly and function in the thick suit to complete the mission if the need arises. (U.S. Air Force photo by John Ingle)
ATSO training June 27, 2018
ATSO training June 27, 2018
Staff Sgt. Ryan Sheppard, 82nd Security Forces Squadron, demonstrates a standing shooting position while wearing protective gear during Ability to Survive and Operate training at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, June 27, 2018. About 40 Airmen participated in the training session, which is used to teach them how and when to put on the gear properly and function in the thick suit to complete the mission if the need arises. (U.S. Air Force photo by John Ingle)
It was the first of what will be regular Ability to Survive and Operate exercises, said Master Sgt. Ronald Studer, superintendent of the 82nd Training Wing Plans, Programs and Exercises office. He said the goal of the recurring drills is to improve the field skills of Airmen as well as their ability to quickly and accurately don MOPP, or mission oriented protective posture, gear should a chemical, biological, radiologic or nuclear threat exist.

“Hopefully they’ll never have to use it,” he said. “But when the time comes, if you have to use it, you’ll know how.”

Airmen processed through a small mobility line before picking up their MOPP gear to begin the exercise deployment. After a couple briefings from subject matter experts ranging from civil engineering to safety and medical and putting on MOPP level 2 gear, the Airmen “deployed” to the fire training area on Sheppard.

While deployed, four groups of Airmen rotated between four stations including pre-attack, weapons, self-aid and buddy care, and post-attack reconnaissance. The Airmen had to demonstrate specific skill sets at each location as they would have to perform them in real-world situations.

It was at the post-attack reconnaissance station where the Airmen had to transition from MOPP 2 level protection to MOPP 4, the stage at which Airmen were completely covered from head to toe with a specialized suit, rubber gloves, a flak vest and gas mask.

ATSO training June 27, 2018
Capt. (Dr.) Joseph Simmerman (center), 82nd Medical Operations Squadron, adjusts the straps on a gas mask during Ability to Survive and Operate training at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, June 27, 2018. About 40 Airmen participated in the one-day event that tested their ability to put on protective gear and operate in a deployed environment. (U.S. Air Force photo by John Ingle)
ATSO training June 27, 2018
ATSO training June 27, 2018
Capt. (Dr.) Joseph Simmerman (center), 82nd Medical Operations Squadron, adjusts the straps on a gas mask during Ability to Survive and Operate training at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, June 27, 2018. About 40 Airmen participated in the one-day event that tested their ability to put on protective gear and operate in a deployed environment. (U.S. Air Force photo by John Ingle)
“The main focus right now is ensuring Airmen can transition to the proper gear level based on the threat in a timely and proficient manner,” Studer said. “You know, MOPP level configurations do not vary from base-to-base. You need your gloves, you need your boots, you need your mask. This skill-set is viable at every location, so that's what we're practicing.”

 The fifth station, the gas mask confidence facility, awaited the Airmen after the four skill-set stations were completed. Jeremy Kirk, Sheppard AFB emergency management coordinator, donned his protective gear and released a chemical irritant in the small structure to simulate such an attack. Airmen were required to enter the facility in MOPP 4 gear to gain a better understanding of how the equipment protects them from the irritants.

Participants also experienced the sensation of a chemical irritant when they removed their hood and gas mask before exiting the building.

Studer said each station is designed to teach Airmen how to function in the gear and survive a CBRN threat.

The superintendent said the success of the ATSO rodeo training was a team effort that included the 82nd TRW Inspector General, 82nd Security Forces Squadron, 82nd Medical Group, 82nd Logistics Readiness Squadron and 82nd Civil Engineer Squadron.