CHICAGO, IL (10/10/2018) (readMedia)-- Story by Sgt. 1st Class Patrick J. DeGeorge, 139th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment
Long before the sun rose on the morning of the 2018 Bank of America Chicago Marathon, Soldiers and Airmen with the Illinois National Guard's 5th Civil Support Team (CST) were working with Chicago Fire Department, law enforcement, City Department of Public Health, and Department of Energy staff to ensure a safe race.
CST Commander Lt. Col. Jason Steinkamp of Springfield, Illinois said the unit began working as part of the Joint Hazard Assessment Teams (JHAT) at the Chicago Marathon after the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013. The JHAT, which was founded and led by the Chicago Fire Department since 2002, is a multi-discipline team that is pre-deployed to provide rapid on scene assessment and immediate response intelligence for potential weapons of mass destruction (WMD) events. Steinkamp said the CST works as part of a strong partnership.
"We've really built a great relationship working with our civilian agency partners," he said. "We work with the FBI, Department of Energy, Illinois State Police and Chicago Fire on a regular basis. We know each other's procedures and work very cohesively."
Steinkamp said the CST's job at the race was to provide chemical, biological and WMD subject mater expertise to the team in order to help combat any potential threats to the event.
"We work with our partners to ensure security and life-safety of not only the race participants but the citizens around the area," he added.
The CST began by establishing a joint command post near the race site. Shortly after establishing their position, team members assisted in positioning the Chicago Fire Department's collection of sensors throughout the racecourse to sample air quality while testing for a variety of potential contaminants.
As runners begin gathering, the JHAT does a final sweep through the course. Once the race begins, multiple teams, made up of representatives from each agency, are positioned at designated points. These teams have the ability to react quickly to any possible threat to the race's safety and security.
Sgt. Andrew Hohimer of Girard, Illinois, a survey member with the 5th CST, has been with the CST for two and a half years and has worked three marathons. He said the joint teams have a strong working relationship.
"It's motivating to be a part of such a bigger picture, a bigger organization," said Hohimer. "The number one goal is public safety at these large events."
Steinkamp said the biggest thing he looks forward to is when a mission is complete without any incidents.
"There is a lot of work and preparation which go into creating a safe environment for events like this," Steinkamp said. "It's work the public will never see."
Photo cutline 1: Sgt. Andrew Hohimer (right) from Girard, Illinois, a survey member of the 5th Civil Support Team, speaks with a member of his Joint Hazard Assessment Team during the Chicago Marathon Oct. 7. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Patrick J. DeGeorge, 139th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment)
Photo cutline 2: Lt. Col. Jason Steinkamp (left) of Springfield, Illinois, Commander of the 5th Civil Support Team, a law enforcement representative, and Cdr. Jason Satriano, Commander of Chicago Fire Department's Homeland Security, discuss placement of Joint Hazard Assessment Teams during the Bank of America Chicago Marathon Oct. 7. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Patrick J. DeGeorge, 139th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment)
Photo cutline 3: 5th Civil Support Team Assistant Operations Non-commissioned Officer, Sgt. 1st Class Kristin Retherford of Peoria, Illinois, and a Chicago Firefighter, inspect their equipment prior to the start of the 2018 Bank of America Chicago Marathon Oct. 7. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Patrick J. DeGeorge, 139th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment)