National Guard trains in Richland

National Guard trains in Richland »Play Video
RICHLAND, Wash. -- Hundreds of National Guard Soldiers packed the HAMMER Facility in Richland Wednesday.

The high-intensity, hands-on training took the soldiers through how to respond to a chemical explosion.

What may look, sound, and even smell like a chemical explosion is everything but. 400 soldiers from the National Guard suited up at the HAMMER Facility went through exactly how they would respond to a chemical explosion.

"It's a little more fulfilling, it adds a little more high tempo," says Staff Sergeant Amanda Bergquist.

She was excited to be part of the exercise that involved volunteers who were fully in-character. They were covered in fake blood and artificial chemical burns.

"We get some really great simulated patients coming through, so the closer to the real world the better. The more decorated they are, the more bruises and cuts they have, it's exciting," Bergquist added.

High school volunteers, like John Schroeder, were happy to spend a summer day as part of the exercise.

"It took a while to get the make up on, but it was fun watching everything come together and seeing every body get all gnarly'd up. It was pretty cool," he says.

The entire simulation is lasting three-days and cost about 100 thousand dollars. Facility managers say the exercise is unique.

"This is actually a one-of-a-kind activity for us, we've had teams like this come through probably three times in the 15 year history of the campus," says HAMMER Facility Business Manager Gary Karnofski.

The simulation took just around 15 minutes to complete. And it's training exercises like this that help that National Guard stay on their toes in case an emergency like this were to every happen.

And it's exercises like these that have Staff Sergeant Bergquist feeling more assured that she can tackle a challenge.

"It adds more to our confidence to know we can deploy in any sort of situation," she says.

Officials tell us the training this morning was a trial run for an even bigger event scheduled for next year. More than 900 national guardsmen will come back to the facility to simulate an even bigger catastrophe. Troops are staying at Liberty Christian in Richland.