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Tennessee Guard Supports the NFL Draft

Friday, April 26, 2019 | 02:57pm

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- As football fans gear up for the 2019 NFL Draft being held in downtown Nashville from April 25 to 27, the Tennessee National Guard’s 45th Civil Support Team is on the ground ensuring everyone has a safe weekend.

Headquartered in Smyrna, the 22-member unit provides first responders and civil authorities the ability to conduct rapid on-site analysis and identification of Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear agents or materials that could put citizens at risk. 

“This weekend we’re working alongside the Nashville Fire Department’s Special Operations Unit,” said 1st Lt. Wesley Groves, the head of the 45th CST’s Joint Hazmat Assessment Team. “Along with other partner agencies, we’re doing all we can to protect everyone during this huge event.”

The main function of the 45th this weekend is to assist, advise, assess consequences, and support the Nashville Fire Department in CBRN matters said Groves. “Because of our unique training and equipment, we’re able to provide support that many others can’t.”

The 45th began their NFL Draft mission on Thursday, starting with sweeps of the area to identify possible threats. Throughout the draft, they watch for any changes using sensors that can detect CBRN agents in real-time. Should there be a change, the team members notify state and local officials.

“Should something be detected, the response and decisions on how to react are made by local, state and federal agencies,” said Groves. “We support them. We’re not in charge of the event or response, we are solely there at the request of the emergency managers.”

Because of the size of the event - estimates of more than 100,000 visitors will be downtown for the draft each day - the 45th is being assisted by specialists from the 92nd CST in Nevada and the 43rd CST out of South Carolina.

“Every state has a CST and we support one another when major events, like the NFL draft, occur,” said Lt. Col. John Brownell, commander of the 92nd CST. “Right now members from my unit are assisting in Nashville as well as gaining great experience for when the 2020 NFL Draft comes to Nevada.”

Taking part in the behind-the-scenes aspect of large events like the NFL draft is not new for the 45th. They often provide smilar support to emergency managers at other events across Tennessee and the nation.

"The 45th is the best trained and equipped unit in the state to counter CBRN threats,” said Groves. "There is no other unit like this in the Tennessee National Guard. It is our job to protect the homeland from these threats and we take our job very seriously.”

Members of 45th CST and Nashville Firefighters are breifed
A member of the 45th CST checks for hazardous materials
A 45th CST member and Nashville Firefighter near the NFL Draft stage in Nashville