Engineers train for disaster response
December 15, 2011
FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. -- With temperatures dropping into the low 40s and rain pouring, Soldiers from the 232nd Engineer Company train by conducting a no-notice Emergency Deployment Readiness Exercise (EDRE) Dec.13 to ensure unit preparedness in the event of a real world disaster.
Since Oct. 1, the company has been operating as part of the Command and Control Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear (CBRN) Response Element, part of U.S. Army North.
The Element is one of three specialized federal military forces designed to assist civilian agencies in responding to catastrophic CBRN incidents in the homeland.
If an incident like this occurs, the 232nd Engineer Co. is capable of conducting a self-sustaining deployment to assist federal, state and local emergency responders, explains Cpt. David Mckelvin, 232nd Engineer Co. commander.
"Our unit is comprised of heavy construction engineers, mechanics and CBRN specialists," said Mckelvin. "We have fuel and water supplied by the 94th Engineer Battalion and the installation provides their complete support by offering containers, loading and Director of Emergency Service escorts installation-wide."
When directed, the unit has just hours to deploy in support of a response mission.
"The first couple hours of the mission are critical," said Spc. Ralph Fulmore, a heavy equipment operator assigned to the 232nd Engineer Co. "It is our job to remove debris so that emergency elements can reach those vital areas that need our support."
In addition to debris removal, the company is able to provide infrastructure damage estimates, prepare areas for military Forward Operating Bases and Federal Emergency Management Agency temporary housing, and assist fire fighters in search and extraction operations.
Since assuming their new mission, Soldiers in the unit have conducted several training exercises where they were required to wear the highest level of Mission Oriented Protective Posture for a CBRN environment while operating their assigned equipment.
"We aren't conducting this exercise simply because we are told to," said Sgt.1st Class Jaime Lopez, 232nd Engineer Co. first sergeant. "We do it to make sure that our guys are prepared and proficient when our country needs us."
After nearly 12 hours, Soldiers from the 232nd Engineer Co. completed the unit EDRE.
The company plans to conduct a follow-up exercise in mid-March