FORT SILL, Okla. (TNN) - We’re continuing to follow a group of basic trainees on Fort Sill, now in their second week. The gas chamber was slated for Monday. Filled with a controlled concentration of CS gas, the gas chamber allows trainees to learn how to react to chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear attacks.
“They also gain confidence in their equipment," said Sgt. 1st Class John Sharp. "We run them through a mask confidence chamber where they will be exposed to riot control agent with their mask on.”
Soldiers were instructed to walk into the cold side of the chamber, that hasn’t been exposed to gas. After a few exercises to get their heart rates up, they entered the hot side, fully exposed to CS Gas.
“We have them take their mask off," said Sgt. 1st Class Sharp. "They’re exposed for 15 seconds and then they exit, knowing my mask works because it’s pretty bad in there.”
After completing the 10 minute task and reciting the soldier’s creed the soldiers were forced out. Private Amanda Nelson was one of about 180 trainees who went through the chamber.
“It wasn’t the most ideal circumstance, but it was still awesome,” said Pvt. Nelson.
Exposure to the gas causes distressing symptoms including burning eyes, large amounts of mucous, chest tightness, sneezing and coughing.
“We tell the trainees to blink their eyes as they come out to get the chemicals out of their eyes and move their arms up and down to make sure it gets off their clothes." said Sgt. 1st Class Sharp.
After about 10 minutes, the effects of the tear gas subside. It’s an unforgettable experience, one Nelson says she wouldn’t mind trying again.
“It was not as bad as I anticipated," said Pvt. Nelson. "Simply, I am very grateful for that experience. It wasn’t ideal, but it was awesome.”