Thursday, November 1, 2012

Marines in CS gas chamber as part of training

Gas chamber allows recruits to be confident in abilities
By Lance Cpl. Bridget M. Keane
Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego
October 31, 2012

The recruits of Company K, 3rd Recruit Training Battalion, lined up outside the door of the Confidence Chamber at Edson Range aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif. Oct. 26.

The Confidence Chamber is a gas chamber that allows recruits to become familiar with the M50 Joint Service General Purpose Mask and experience the effects of CS gas, also known as tear gas, a non-lethal, riot control agent.

“This training is for the recruits to build confidence in their ability to don and properly use the mask,” explained Cpl. Carlos Gama, field instructor, Weapons and Field Training Battalion. “The recruits get to experience the effects of CS with and without the mask.”

The day began with a series of classes explaining the M50 mask, how to properly wear it, how to clear it, and CS gas and its effects.

CS gas reacts with moisture on the skin and in the eyes, causing it to burn. It also irritates the respiratory system causing unpreventable coughing and sneezing.

“This is to simulate how stressful someone would feel in a chaotic combat environment,” explained Gama.

Next was the moment most recruits dreaded, breaking the mask’s seal. The recruits were required to close their eyes, hold their breath and lift their masks off, exposing their face.

Some recruits struggle to hold their breath and begin to cough, breathing in the gas. The reactions are expected; skin burning, eyes tearing, and uncontrollable coughing.

“When I broke the seal, I started freaking out,” said Pvt. Alek Garrett, Platoon 3221, Co. K. “It was stinging so bad, I cried.”

The muffled sound of recruits crying out and gagging can be heard from the outside, making the next group anxious and nervous.
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