By Terry Rogers
Milford citizens may have been surprised on Wednesday and Thursday, April 2 and 3 when military vehicles, tents and radar were parked at the Milford Middle School. The purpose of the vehicles was to provide training to National Guard units.
“There was no one there from Homeland Security,” said Bill Kent of the National Guard. “All participants were Delaware National Guardsmen along with some civilian personnel from the State of Delaware.”
The Delaware National Guard’s 31st Civil Support Team conducted the training evaluation from 6 am until 7 pm in the building that previously housed Milford Middle School on Lakeview Ave. The Civil Support Team provides support to local, state and federal civil authorities in the event there is an actual, or even suspected, terrorist incident. The team also provides support during natural or manmade disasters that may lead to catastrophic loss of life, such as earthquakes or fires.
“Every state is required to have a Civil Support Team,” said Captain Brian Malloy. “They are there to enhance the capabilities of state and local agencies and are completely mobile. They consist of two-man teams who, when they receive a call, have 90 minute to report to their home base, which is in Smyrna, and three hours to report to the location.” Captain Malloy says that the team knew this was a simulation and evaluation and not a real scenario when they reported.
The exercise at Milford Middle School was part of the team’s training and certification process. Since it was a former school, simulations on the two days dealt with school-related scenarios. On Tuesday, the training involved dealing with potential explosive devices placed in the school by students who did not mean to harm anyone, but were pulling Senior Week pranks. On Thursday, the scenario dealt with white powder mailed to school administrators, as well as explosive devices placed in the school by someone upset about the school’s handling of bullying.
“No active or live agents were used as part of the training,” Captain Malloy explained. “It was all completely simulated, so there was no danger at all to the public. In a real-case scenario, Milford and Delaware State Police would have been on the scene, along with the fire company. Because it was training, they were not on the scene, but were informed of the exercise. The Fire Chief was present, and we did use one of the fire trucks during the training.” Captain Malloy said the truck was used to access water from hydrants during the training, using only between 50 and 100 gallons of water.
Captain Malloy said that finding locations for the training is often difficult, and when the opportunity arose for them to use the former school, it gave them a chance to train for school-related scenarios. Captain Malloy stated that they found the middle school perfect for their needs, but also saw that the building was no longer suitable for students.
“This gave us an awesome opportunity and we loved the building,” Captain Malloy explained. “We could not have asked for a better location for this training. The district was very cooperative. Dr. Stevenson, Dr. Kohel and the Building Supervisor, Ron White, worked with us to be sure we had everything we needed. We are hoping that this training will even offer some assistance to the district since our training was school-incident related.”
Dr. Glen Stevenson, Supervisor of Buildings and Grounds for Milford, said that the district was not involved in any of the operations. “The team just used our facility to provide necessary training to the civilian members of their team,” Dr. Stevenson explained. “However, given the scenarios they used, their training certainly could benefit our district, surrounding districts or even local businesses if the unthinkable should ever happen.”