POSTED February, 2013
By LT Annjea Cormier and LT Kristen Potter (Photos by LT John LaMorte)
East Rutherford, NJ: The US Coast Guard’s National Strike Force (NSF), spearheaded by the Atlantic Strike Team (AST) based out of Fort Dix, NJ deployed as a part of a comprehensive port security regime set up for the protection and rapid response operations during the events surrounding Superbowl 48 from 27 Jan, 2014 to Feb 4, 2014. The team partnered with other Federal, State and Local agencies to specifically ensure that in the event of any hazardous material incident, they were prepared to offer the public the best support possible.
The U.S. Coast Guard's NSF, with members from the Atlantic, Pacific and Gulf Strike Teams, were staged and ready for immediate response in Northern NJ. The team supported both the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and USCG Sector NY response efforts, using their skills and extensive training to mitigate any and all potential threats, specifically Chemical, Biological, Radiological, or Nuclear (CBRN). The Response Supervisor for the mission, DCC Broko Boland said, "We are excited to support this multi-agency response and to have the opportunity to work with our counterparts to ensure a safe environment".
Utilizing advanced detection and monitoring equipment the NSF team is able to identify different sources of radiation in the area and determine whether the isotopes in the radiation are harmful or naturally occurring radioactive material. For a biological attack, the Strike Teams' equipment is used to collect samples and conduct testing to see if there is any biological threat including organic compounds and airborne threats. In addition to incident response gear, the team also has personal protective equipment up to Level-A, which protects team members from a vapors and hazardous atmospheres. With this specific personal protective equipment, members were able to assist and decontaminate people with medical issues in areas affected by a potential CBRN attack.
Planning for this high profile security event has been ongoing for months, and in preparation for the multi-agency build up to Superbowl 48, FEMA Region II hosted a HAZMAT response exercise with its joint local and federal partners. The event focused on a potential Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) attack in a small area surrounding Metlife stadium and the effects such an attack would have on the surrounding populace. The US Coast Guard Atlantic Strike Team partnered with personnel from all over the tri-state area to conduct an exercise focusing on the capabilities each agency could bring to a WMD response and to jointly develop contingency plans in the event of such an event. LT John LaMorte, one of the AST representatives at the exercise stated, “The best part of this scenario was that personnel from the different agencies not normally accustomed to working together were able to meet, discuss plans, and develop contingencies strengthening interagency relations”.
The NSF is one of many Coast Guard units who supported the event from around the country and were actively engaged with several other government agencies including EPA, FBI, NYPD Harbor, FDNY Marine, Jersey City PD, and US Marshals Service.