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Airman brings CBRN knowledge to Fairchild

CBRNE CCA

Tech. Sgt. Justin Curtis, 92nd Civil Engineer Squadron NCO in charge emergency management, observes Airmen as they go through a Contaminated Control Area during training, May 7, 2018 at Fairchild Air Force Base, Washington. Processing through the CCA gives Airmen hands on experience of how to properly decontaminate and remove protective equipment to avoid further contamination. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Samantha Krolikowski)

Prep CCA

Staff Sgt. Anton Smith, 92nd Civil Engineer Squadron power production journeyman, and Tech. Sgt. Justin Curtis, 92nd CES NCO in charge emergency management, discuss procedures to put together a Contaminated Control Area, May 7, 2018 at Fairchild Air Force Base, Washington. The purpose of the CCA was to train Airmen on how to properly remove contaminated individual protective equipment after a chemical or biological attack. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Samantha Krolikowski)

CBRN instructor

Tech. Sgt. Justin Curtis 92nd Civil Engineer Squadron NCO in-charge of emergency management, unravels signs for a Contaminated Control Area, May, 7, 2018 at Fairchild Air Force Base, Washington. Before teaching Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Chemical at Fairchild, he was an instructor for four year and Lackland AFB, Texas. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Samantha Krolikowski)

FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. -- Early in the morning basic trainees are rushed into a large room, they follow in previous Airmen’s footsteps and listen to instructions telling them why they’re on site. Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Chemical gear is handed out one-by-one as trainees begin to inspect every aspect of their equipment and don it properly before the room is flooded with gas.

This important training could one day be the difference between life and death for Airmen.

“We introduce the trainees to possibilities on how to survive and operate in attack situations,” said Tech. Sgt. Justin Curtis 92nd Civil Engineer Squadron NCO in-charge of emergency management. “We get the trainees for eight hours before they head to the Basic Expeditionary Airmen Skills Training and have an average of 200 trainees every day during the week. We stress the importance of wearing CBRN gear.”

The trainees learn war skills and are given the expectations of what could happen if a CBRN attack were to occur. Most of the trainees have never seen anything like CBRN except for preconceived misconceptions from movies and television shows.

“I was teaching at a basic level and needed to figure out what it was they could understand because trainees didn’t know anything,” Curtis said. “Trainees understandably could find many different things to ask questions about. Precision and direction is very important when instructing.”

For four years, Curtis was a CBRN technical instructor at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, teaching thousands of basic trainees, a task that can only be accomplished after attending a five to six week instructor course that taught them how to put together proper lesson plans and write tests, ultimately learning how to be a better CBRN teacher.

“I got to teach at BEAST for about a year and a half and it made me a better instructor,” Curtis said. “We worked with the trainees for a whole week and eventually you start to get into their mind a little bit. We began to understand what motivated them.”

Curtis brought his CBRN curriculum knowledge with him to Fairchild, and through utilizing his polished teaching skills, he’s able to further career Airmen’s refresher CBRN training above normal teaching circumstances.

“Taking what I learned has helped me instruct at a higher level because people now have a background of CBRN,” Curtis said. “I’ve been able to build and expand a stronger foundation of understanding the ‘why’ of teaching CBRN and its importance.”

Although all Airmen have gone through CBRN in basic training, it could be one, five or even ten years before an Airman last had CBRN hands-on refresher training. With his teaching experience, Curtis has a better eye for seeing problems right away, like if a mask isn’t sealed correctly. He knows how to properly inspect and correct any issues.

“I’m able to explain to Airmen, this is why we do the training, this is why it’s important. I think that’s what we’re missing, the why,” Curtis said. “I think it’s important that we put a lot into our enlisted force.”

Even if Curtis comes across as angry or mean, he mentioned he teaches because he cares about every Airmen in the room. The sometimes perceived emotion of anger is his passion shining through his teaching.


“One of my favorite things about instructing is getting to meet people and learn things from them,” Curtis said. “I’m a social person and I value people. I love that we’re a group of individuals and we’re able to empower and educate each other.”

With his teaching experience, Curtis hopes to be able to pass down advice to future Airmen who are in an instructor position.

“Do everything you can, go out and watch other Airmen complete tasks,” Curtis said. “Every human has value and individualism, which is so important.”