Galesburg, Ill. National Guard Unit Trained For Chemical Attacks

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The location of latest chemical attack in Syria is more than 6,000 miles away, but Army National Guard Troops in the QCA are prepared to respond to the same type of chemical warfare, if need be.

While chemical warfare on U.S. soil is uncommon, the 444th Chemical Company out of Galesburg, Ill. prepares for the worst.

"Chemical warfare, biological warfare, nuclear warfare attacks are not common anymore, but they are very real and dangerous," said SSG Kristin Retherford.

Retherford is part of the Knox County response unit comprised of roughly 100 Army National Guard soldiers. Every one is prepared to detect a chemical attack and save lives.

"There's many different types of chemicals. There's nerve agents, blood agents, blister agents." Retherford said the entire unit is trained to deal with all of them, but each soldier must protect himself before heading into a dangerous situation.

"There might be civilian or military casualties that we need to go in and get out, but in order to go into that environment, you have to be protected yourself."

Each soldier has his or her own pack including heavy and hot HAZMAT gear. The suit is sweltering - hotter inside than it is on the outside - but the goal is keeping contaminants out so the job can get done.

"In the event that one of those happens," said Retherford, "you need a quick response force."

And in Galesburg, we have one.


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