Alabama medics prove they are 'always ready, always there'
August 10, 2012
MUSCATATUCK URBAN TRAINING CENTER, Ind. -- Alabama Guardsmen, clad in protective masks and carrying stretchers, rushed into a "danger" area here Aug. 8 after a "nuclear attack" to provide lifesaving and life-sustaining care for "sick and injured" civilians, as part of a major incident exercise.
Soldiers from the 129th Air Support Medical Company, 161st Area Support Medical Battalion, Alabama National Guard, based in Centerville, Ala., provided first response medical assistance as part of Vibrant Response 13, a major incident exercise conducted by U.S. Northern Command and led by U.S. Army North.
Vibrant Response 13 encompasses more than 9,000 service members and civilians and runs from July 26-Aug. 13. The multi-venue exercise takes place at the unique disaster training area at MUTC and various training areas and airfields in southern Indiana and northern Kentucky.
The medics didn't rush into the danger area blindly.
Chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear specialists from the 208th Chemical Company, 151st Chemical Battalion, 31st Chemical Brigade, Alabama National Guard, based in Springville, Ala., decontaminated the area before the medics began lifesaving operations.
"The scenario involves the aftermath of a nuclear attack," said Maj. Dan Welsch, an Army North displaced civilian controller. "A CBRN unit is called in to recon a building to determine the chemical status of it in the aftermath of the attack," he said. "While they are there, they find injured civilians who have been exposed to radiation so they call for medical help."
Providing medical assistance is what the 129th does.
"We are designed to run one 'level-two' clinic or two to three 'level-one' clinics," said Sgt. Robert Potter, a medic with the 129th. A "level one" clinic provides immediate life-saving care, while a "level two" clinic is comparable to a small family practice with a pharmacy, a radiological department, in-patient capabilities as well as aerial and ground evacuation capabilities.
During the scenario, the medics were called upon to provide immediate care to the approximately 25 people in and around a building.
Upon arriving on the scene, medics determined the extent of the injuries, and then moved civilians by litter to an ambulance where they were taken to receive further medical treatment as well as decontamination.
"We want to move the least-injured people first," said Pvt. Porsha Bussey, a medic with the 129th. "Once we get them out of the hot area, then we can concentrate on the more severely injured people."
The use of role players made the training more real for the Soldiers.
"The role players help us a lot," said Spc. Schavongala Bennett, a supply specialist assigned to the 129th, as well as one of the ambulance drivers. "They add stress and realism to the training."