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NEWS | Feb. 18, 2021

409th Soldier participates in Urban Search & Rescue exercise in Nevada

By Staff Sgt. David Lietz 416th Theater Engineer Command

Spc. Walker Evans is a 25 U, Signal Support System Specialist, assigned to the 409th Engineer Vertical Construction Company, (EVCC), Windsor, Colorado. He recently participated in an Urban Search & Rescue exercise near Sloan, Nevada in January 2021.

During the training, 409th Soldiers performed Urban Search & Rescue with a HAZMAT component.

“If something happens, federal response is organized and we would go into an area, whether it’s a nuclear attack or a chemical plant malfunction,” said Evans. “We could go into an area contaminated by hazardous materials and conduct rescue operations to pull people out of that hazardous environment.”

The Soldiers wear hazardous material gear during the mission.

“It’s full Level C HAZMAT gear with a mask, coveralls, boots, hard hat and battery-powered air system,” explained Evans.

To maintain situational awareness of the environment Evans uses an emergency response guide (ERG) on a tablet.

“It’s quick reference material for an incident. I can look at an incident and reference what I’m seeing with what’s in the guide and that will give us guidance on how to go about dealing with it.”

“The tablet also allows us to program our rescue radios and it’s a hub of information with an encyclopedia of different chemicals and what they do,” said Evans. “Even if I don’t know what the chemical is there’s a program where I can put in signs and symptoms of what is going on, what it smells like. I can type that in (to the computer) and it can help me narrow down what I’m dealing with. For example, chlorine gas which has a distinct smell and physical appearance.”

The team can also pair the tablet with Go Pro cameras to give the commander a real-time picture of what’s going on in a hot zone.

“We want rescue teams to see the real time video and see what they need to be able to do and execute the mission immediately,” he said.

Evans enjoyed refining his skills and getting the opportunity to train during the joint exercise.

“This mission is a great way for the Army Reserve to get some unique training but also offer unique assistance to the American public. I feel this domestic mission offers us an opportunity to always be ready to serve and respond to the needs of our local community and our country.”