Engineers clear rubble, train for worst-case scenario
August 3, 2012
MUSCATATUCK URBAN TRAINING COMPLEX, Indiana - Soldiers of the 103rd Engineer Company, 94th Engineer Battalion, 4th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, out of Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., cleared roads choked with debris and obstacles Aug. 1 to clear the way for emergency responders here as part of a major incident exercise.
The engineers used construction equipment to remove wood, concrete and metal debris blocking a road during Vibrant Response 13, a major field training exercise conducted by U.S. Northern Command and led by U.S. Army North. More than 9,000 service members and civilians are participating in the exercise in southern Indiana and northern Kentucky to provide lifesaving and life-sustaining care after a simulated 10-kiloton nuclear detonation in a major Midwestern city.
"We came down to do a debris removal on service roads," said 1st Lt. Timothy Sybert, platoon leader of 3rd platoon and a native of St. Joseph, Mo. "We brought our (command and control chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear response element) kit to clear highways."
The engineers removed bulky concrete pieces, large metal shards, vehicle parts and other huge forms of rubble out of a road, while maintaining safety standards. Before allowing anyone near the job site, Sybert warns people to stay away from blind spots on equipment, watch for falling debris, and keep an eye out for nails on the ground. Even then, only necessary personnel are allowed on the job site.
"Our job is to safely clear the road of all debris," said Spc. Caleb Pedersen, a heavy equipment operator with 3rd platoon and a native of Boelus, Neb. "It's our job to clear the roads so it is easier for medical personnel, or whoever it might be, to get help to those who need it."
Pedersen operated the backhoe loader to remove smaller pieces of debris after the massive hydraulic excavator, operated by Spc. Wade Wilbers, a heavy equipment operator, and native of Taos, Mo., eliminated the larger pieces. Behind them two skid-steer loaders rid the road of the last of the rubble.
"It's crucial because it allows free movement of utility trucks, emergency personnel and medical people to move supplies and resources," said Sybert. "It establishes communications to cut-off parts of the community. We also, gather up any sick and wounded and get them aid."
Units participating in Vibrant Response are part of the Department of Defense's newly beefed-up Defense Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Response Force. The DCRF officially takes over the CBRNE Response Enterprise mission Oct. 1. The DoD's CBRN Response Enterprise was transformed to employ significantly more life-saving aviation, medical, engineering, logistics and decontamination capabilities more rapidly in support of civilian responders (in some cases 3-5 times more capability).
With the realistic sights, sounds, and complex missions at Vibrant Response, service members can leave knowing that they have been prepared for real-world incidents.
"This training area is amazing," said Seybert. "It's got a lot of resources these Soldiers won't get to see anywhere else. The time they take just to pull this stuff onto the roads so that we can remove it is not like anything I've seen before."