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 Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16