• James Snyder, Q-West firefighter and San Antonio native, checks the pulse of role player Sgt. Joseph Page, an A Company 106th Support Battalion supply specialist and Hattiesburg, Miss. native as part of a mass casualty exercise here Oct. 28. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Matthew C. Cooley, 15th Sustainment Brigade public affairs)

    James Snyder, Q-West firefighter and San...

    James Snyder, Q-West firefighter and San Antonio native, checks the pulse of role player Sgt. Joseph Page, an A Company 106th Support Battalion supply specialist and Hattiesburg, Miss. native as part of a mass casualty exercise here Oct. 28. (U.S. Army...

  • Capt. John Balman, a Temple, Texas, native and 15th Sustainment Brigade surgeon, examines a role player patient during a mass casualty exercise here Oct. 28. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Matthew C. Cooley, 15th Sustainment Brigade public affairs)

    Capt. John Balman, a Temple, Texas, native and...

    Capt. John Balman, a Temple, Texas, native and 15th Sustainment Brigade surgeon, examines a role player patient during a mass casualty exercise here Oct. 28. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Matthew C. Cooley, 15th Sustainment Brigade public affairs)

  • Role player Sgt. Josh Tharpe, a tank crewmember with C Company, 2nd Battalion 198th Combined Arms Brigade and Grenada, Miss., native, watches as Q-West firefighters examine him during a mass casualty exercise here Oct. 28. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Matthew C. Cooley, 15th Sustainment Brigade public affairs)

    Role player Sgt. Josh Tharpe, a tank crewmember...

    Role player Sgt. Josh Tharpe, a tank crewmember with C Company, 2nd Battalion 198th Combined Arms Brigade and Grenada, Miss., native, watches as Q-West firefighters examine him during a mass casualty exercise here Oct. 28. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt...

  • Q-West firefighters wearing protective gear react to a simulated helicopter crash during a mass casualty exercise here Oct. 28. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Matthew C. Cooley, 15th Sustainment Brigade public affairs)

    Q-West firefighters wearing protective gear...

    Q-West firefighters wearing protective gear react to a simulated helicopter crash during a mass casualty exercise here Oct. 28. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Matthew C. Cooley, 15th Sustainment Brigade public affairs)

  • Reaford Cook, a Q-West firefighter and Raleigh, N.C., native, watches over a role playing triage patient during a mass casualty exercise here Oct. 28. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Matthew C. Cooley, 15th Sustainment Brigade public affairs)

    Reaford Cook, a Q-West firefighter and Raleigh...

    Reaford Cook, a Q-West firefighter and Raleigh, N.C., native, watches over a role playing triage patient during a mass casualty exercise here Oct. 28. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Matthew C. Cooley, 15th Sustainment Brigade public affairs)

  • Q-West firefighters Chas Cosgrave (right), a Zanesille, Oh., native and Michael Winter, a Salt Lake City native, take care of role playing patient, Sgt. Josh Tharpe, a tank crewmember with C Company, 2nd Battalion 198th Combined Arms Brigade and Grenada, Miss., native, during a mass casualty exercise here Oct. 28. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Matthew C. Cooley, 15th Sustainment Brigade public affairs)

    Q-West firefighters Chas Cosgrave (right), a...

    Q-West firefighters Chas Cosgrave (right), a Zanesille, Oh., native and Michael Winter, a Salt Lake City native, take care of role playing patient, Sgt. Josh Tharpe, a tank crewmember with C Company, 2nd Battalion 198th Combined Arms Brigade and...

  • A Q-West firefighter gives direction while another holds a man who role played a fleeing delusional victim of a simulated helicopter crash during a mass casualty exercise here Oct. 28. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Matthew C. Cooley, 15th Sustainment Brigade public affairs)

    A Q-West firefighter gives direction while...

    A Q-West firefighter gives direction while another holds a man who role played a fleeing delusional victim of a simulated helicopter crash during a mass casualty exercise here Oct. 28. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Matthew C. Cooley, 15th Sustainment...

CONTINGENCY OPERATING LOCATION Q-WEST, Iraq - Rain water caused small puddles of blood to stream across the pavement under the boots of men wearing what looked like silver spacesuits.

Red and blue flashing lights reflected off of yellow uniforms and the chrome-like surfaces of fire trucks.

15th Sustainment Brigade medics along with Q-West firefighters and medical contractors conducted a realistic mass casualty exercise here Oct. 29 simulating a downed helicopter.

The exercise was the first time that these services all worked together on Q-West for an exercise of this type according to Drexel Garland, Q-West fire department's assistant chief of operations.

"The main thing is working together," he said.


The exercise used a small bus to simulate a crashed helicopter and Soldiers role played victims with fake blood and injuries. Dummies were also used to simulate the dead.

"We drill every other day out here," Drexel, a San Angelo, Texas, native said.

"[But] when you got a person actually in front of you bleeding [or with] broken legs ... it's a lot different."

Firefighters wearing silver flame resistant suits and protective masks were faced with an unexpected twist when they arrived at the scene only to discover a role player simulating a civilian who happened to be in the area at the time of the crash. The role player ran around frantically as if delusional forcing the firefighters to give chase.

Drexel explained that communication between the organizations and conducting triage was challenging.

"[It] was a new experience for a lot people, but it went well," Master Sgt. Stanley Dyches, a Copperas Cove, Texas, native and the 15th Sus. Bde. Surgeon cell noncommissioned officer in charge, said.

He didn't complain about the weather either.

"If it ain't raining, we ain't training," he said laughing.

Many of those involved in the training said that the exercise helped the collaborative efforts of the different groups involved.

"How can we make that better' How can we make that more efficient'" John Petrovic, Q-West's fire chief asked of his firefighters during an after action review.

He also stressed the importance of being capable of handling any emergency situation that might arise due to the remote location of the base.

"We're it. We're not only the A team but he B team too."

Page last updated Sat October 31st, 2009 at 13:47