The ability to keep pace with today’s diverse and escalating threat landscape is critical for all first responders, from national and international agencies to your local hazmat team.
As in any industry, continued training is important, as it ensures acquired skills remain sharp and new, vital ones are developed.
This is the mission behind Urban Shield, a 48-hour intensive training exercise designed to push tactical teams and first responders to their limits.
Dubbed the “Hazmat Olympics,” Urban Shield exposes teams at all levels to a range of challenges, from active shooter scenarios to identifying mysterious radiological devices or materials.
(Learn About Urban Shield, a unique tactical training exercise involving thousands of hours of planning and preparation. Courtesy of Urban Shield and YouTube)
While the ultimate goal is to further these teams’ knowledge of new technology, response tactics, and burgeoning threats, it’s also a fierce competition for first place.
Urban Shield reports having had a fantastic first experience with M908™ at last year’s event, and were invited back for a second year.
To be asked to return is a high compliment and a true testament to the success of M908 – which stood up to repeated, arduous testing across several scenarios.
908 Devices management couldn’t wait to demonstrate their recently-launched, next-generation chemical detector, MX908™, and put it through this rigorous training program.
No Safety Net
Unlike last year, 908 Devices weren’t able to be in the hot-zone with the teams using our device, so it was imperative that they had a comprehensive understanding of its operations before they went in.
The big challenge? We had a maximum of five minutes to do this. After that, they were on their own.
Based on our experience last year, we learned it was more effective to train a few people, as opposed to the whole team.
After providing a 30 second overview to the entire group, the remaining time was spent taking a deeper dive with the individuals who would be operating the device.
A team of soccer players have just completed a friendly match in San Jose and are traveling to Oakland in a rental van.
Hungry after the game, they go through the drive thru of a fast food restaurant on their way.
Shortly after, the team begins to feel sick – is it food poisoning or something else?
First responders arrive on the scene with three objectives: secure the area, access the situation, and determine the cause.
Take What You Can Carry
Urban Shield simulates a scenario with as many real-world conditions as possible, meaning that responders can only take into the field what they can carry.
In this case, responders had to a variety of tools and devices are their disposal, one of which was MX908.
It’s always been 908 Device’s goal to develop devices that fill capability gaps for the safety & security community – putting versatility and unmatched detection power into a portable form factor.
With MX908, users benefit from true trace-level detection and identification capabilities across a variety of CBRNE and Hazmat response missions.
In addition, an upgraded all hazards target list, which includes a broader spectrum of chemical warfare agents (CWA) as well as explosives and high-priority toxic industrial chemicals (TIC), helps them prepare for whatever lay ahead.
MX908 In Action
Each team went to work to identify the source of the sickness.
It was exciting to watch the participants tackle the challenge with MX908 in hand and do so masterfully with mere minutes of training.
Urban Shield is a test of technology as much as it is tactical skill and strategy.
MX908’s ability to run repeated tests accurately with virtually no down time was a significant asset here, as it is in the hot-zone.
Many devices can become saturated and less effective when used this aggressively.
We were pleased to see MX908 standing up to test after test without sacrificing speed or accuracy.
As a result, all 12 teams successfully used MX908 to identify the chemical agent that had been planted in the vehicle inside of the fast food bag.
Making A Positive ID
Special congratulations to the Santa Clara County Fire Department, Contra Costa County Health Services and Alameda County Fire Department who took home the first, second and third place spots, respectively, in the Hazmat category.
We were so impressed with this year’s teams and their dedication to making the most of this learning experience.
It was a privilege to put our new device in their hands and to be involved in yet another successful Urban Shield competition.
(Learn About the MX908™ from 908 Devices. Courtesy of 908 Devices and Vimeo)
Urban Shield is a unique tactical training exercise involving thousands of hours of planning and preparation.
The event allows participating agencies a practical opportunity to evaluate their tactical team’s level of preparedness and ability to perform a variety of intricate first responder operations.
The dual benefit of this event allows each agency to evaluate its own tactical capabilities while training together with EMS, Fire, and EOD (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) to identify our ability to cope with large scale events at a regional level.
Urban Shield has grown into a comprehensive, full-scale regional preparedness exercise assessing the overall Bay Area UASI Region’s response capabilities related to multi-discipline planning, policies, procedures, organization, equipment and training.
Urban Shield continues to test regional integrated systems for prevention, protection, response and recovery in our high-threat, high-density urban area.
The exercise evaluates our existing level of preparedness and capabilities, identifying not only what we do well, but areas in need of improvement.
(Learn More. Courtesy of Urban Shield and YouTube)
The previous years’ After Action Reports are referenced and used to assist in prioritizing upcoming expenditures possible for the region so we may become more prepared for any type of critical event or incident in our area.
Training Together – Responding as ONE – 2018 Event Date September 6-10, 2018
The Alameda County Sheriff’s Office (ACSO) will host Urban Shield 2018, a planned training exercise involving local, national, and international first responder agencies.
This event begins Thursday, September 6, 2018 and ends on Monday September 10, 2018.
The 48-hour exercise will be managed utilizing the National Incident Management System (NIMS) and the Standardized Emergency Management System (SEMS).
The event incorporates the guiding principles from the National Response Framework (NRF) to assist tactical teams as well as all first responders, to prepare for and provide a unified response to disasters and major emergencies.
Urban Shield will be separated into 10 operational Area Commands designated Black, Blue, Gold, Green, Silver (all tactical), Red (fire), White (EOD), Yellow (mass casualty event), EMS (no color designation), Medical Branch (no color designation).
Tactical Response teams will participate in 35 individual events ranging from Active Shooter/Immediate Action Team scenarios to detecting radiological devices or materials.
(Find out More. Courtesy of Urban Shield and YouTube)
Teams will arrive on September 6, 2018, and receive mission and safety briefings as well as an introduction to the latest technology to be used in the training scenarios.
In addition, each team member will be subjected to a medical assessment and firearms qualification at the Alameda County Regional Training Center Range Facility.
The training events begin at 0500 hours Saturday, September 06, 2018, and culminate after four 12-hour operational periods, on Monday, September 10, 2018, at 0500 hours.
Participating teams will be introduced to the latest in tactical medical treatment options and receive updated information on treatment for any injuries or health issues during the event.
Ongoing medical evaluations will occur at Mobile Medical Checkpoints located throughout the exercise for any medical issues experienced by team members.
Throughout the scenarios, teams will be confronted with events averaging one hour or more in duration designed to test their training, preparation, and decision-making skills.
Teams will use technology provided to them for use during the scenarios and will be debriefed after each scenario for their immediate feedback concerning the technology presented to them.
This event is not limited to teams from the Bay Area. It is open to any team wishing to participate.
In 2017, an international teams from Mexico and Taiwan has participated.
Teams from across the United States include:
- Jacksonville (FL) County Sheriff’s Office,
- Miami-Dade Police Department, and
- Travis County (TX) Sheriff’s Office.