FORT KNOX, Ky. – Cadets from Fifth Regiment, Advanced Camp strapped on their gas masks and braved the CS chamber on June 24.
The purpose of the CS chamber is to build Cadets’ confidence in the defensive equipment they would use in the case of a chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear attack. For this reason, the exercises preformed in and around the CS chamber are referred to as CBRN.
“Confidence here could be the difference between life or death,” said Staff Sergeant Katie Shaw. “Cadets need to know that the equipment issued to them by the government will protect them in those kinds of environments.”
In addition to confidence, a valuable lesson to come from CBRN is teamwork.
“Something Cadets have to overcome is teamwork,” said Shaw. “We’re trying to instill in them teamwork, so we have them work together with the equipment. Learn about your equipment so that you can help your battle buddy and your fellow Cadets, and then have the inner strength in yourself to overcome something fearful or unknown.”
After arriving to CBRN’s location, Cadets are taught how to properly put on their masks as well as their JLIST (Joint Service Lightweight Integrated Suit Technology). While the mask should only take about 9 seconds to apply, Cadets are tested on their ability to successfully put on their MOPP in under eight minutes.
Following their safety lessons, Cadets are then sent to the CS chamber where they experience the uncomfortable effects of CS gas. CS gas’ composition and effects are similar to those of tear gas.
“We give Cadets some background history on the equipment and then we send them through the chamber so they can experience it for themselves,” said Shaw. “When they’re in their gear they don’t have any of the effects, but when they start loosening things and down dressing they start to feel the effects of the CS gas.”
Although one’s tolerance to CS gas varies from person to person, the repercussions of entering the CS chamber are extremely apparent.
“It feels like having a giant sunburn come on to you immediately,” said Cadet Corey Egan, Northeastern University. “You’re coughing, you’re spitting and there’s snot everywhere.”
After exiting the CS chamber, Cadets are instructed to open their eyes, take deep breaths, and more importantly, flap your arms up and down to diminish the effects of the CS gas.
Egan noted that teamwork and the support of his fellow Cadets is a vital component of getting through not just CBRN, but Cadet Summer Training as a whole.