Equipment developers put own gear to test

More than 40 civilians donning gas masks and mission-oriented protective…

getthumbnailMore than 40 civilians donning gas masks and mission-oriented protective posture suits dragged casualties across an open field, hosed down a humvee and even tossed around the pigskin Friday afternoon.

All of these events were part of an effort to give chemical, biological radiological and nuclear equipment developers an idea of what it’s like to move around in the suits and equipment they are developing for the service members on the ground.

‘‘It makes you appreciate the burden that this places on the warfighter when you wear it in the exercise,” said Gene Stark,acquisitions, Joint Project Executive Office. ‘‘Our brothers and sisters have to wear this for a long period of time in the desert; it must be rough. We’re trying to get them something better, something lighter.”

The CBRN Marines taught civilians the basics of using the gas masks and MOPP suits before having them gear up. They performed casualty extracts on skid drags and decontaminated an assault amphibian vehicle, mine resistant ambush protected and humvee. To simulate precision tasks like firing a rifle, the participants had to throw a football or basketball into trashcans roughly ten feet away.

‘‘The best way to understand any gear is to put the gear on, use it yourself and do some of the things that we do,” said Master Sgt. Eugene Champion, a CBRN project officer. ‘‘It’s real hard for someone who’s not an active duty service member, who’s never done this stuff, to really appreciate what we have to do with this gear on.”

The lessons learned today could ultimately have an effect on the equipment Marines use in future operations.

‘‘I’ve been a clothing designer for 10 years now and a lot of my career I’ve been working with military and with chemical design,” said Stephanie Teo, clothing designer from Battelle Natick. ‘‘This is my first opportunity to actually wear the garments and actually run through a series of exercises. ‘‘Having first-hand experience in the garments really will change my thinking in the future about how to design.”

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