ST. LOUIS – Members of the Missouri National Guard have been on hand at Busch Stadium here this week to support safety and security during the 2013 World Series.
The 7th Weapons of Mass Destruction Civil Support Team, from Jefferson City, assisted local and federal agencies in surveying the area to confirm that no hazardous materials were present.
The team’s goal was to assess suspected or known terrorist threats, advise civilian authorities of appropriate responses, and assist local emergency responders in the event any incidents involving chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear activity were possible.
Army Sgt. 1st Class Juan Gallego, a reconnaissance noncommissioned officer for the 7th CST, said five teams walked the entire stadium and took initial readings of radiation to establish a baseline for continued monitoring throughout the World Series games played here.
“We’ve walked around the stadium and done some background readings of radiation and will use that information so we can plug the readings into a computer, then during the games if we see any elevated reading we can respond,” said Gallego, who is working his third World Series mission. “If there’s a spiked reading, it will come over the computer. We would then disseminate the information and do further monitoring to make sure the reading is not a threat.”
The surveying teams used radioisotope identification devices, also known as gamma spectrometers, to gather the readings. The devices allow users to quickly detect, locate, and identify radioactive sources.
Walking alongside the Guard members were members of the Energy Department, who were also verifying the possible presence of hazardous materials. Other members of the 22-person unit assisted the St. Louis Fire Department in safety efforts around gate entries at the stadium.
“We work hand in hand with the first responders of Missouri,” Gallego said. “We always have to stand on alert, because we’re the first ones they’re going to call.”
The presence of Guardsmen put baseball fans’ minds at ease.
“It makes me feel like something is being done and people are looking out for me,” said Chris Endicott, a Cardinals fan from Minnesota.
Dylan Rainey, a Red Sox fan from Oklahoma, agreed with Endicott, saying it makes him feel very comfortable knowing there are people in place to help protect him so he can enjoy the game without having to worry.
“We rely on our training and constant professionalism,” said Army Capt. Richard Sambolin, the operations officer for the 7th CST, and a Lake Ozark, Mo., resident. “We like being able to demonstrate and share our ability with the public.”
The active-Guard unit is made up of Missouri Air National Guard and Army National Guard members. The unit works and trains regularly with first responders throughout the state and are able to support major national events.