FORT HOOD, Texas -- Service members with Joint Task Force Civil Support honed their disaster response skills during realistic decontamination training on Thursday, Aug. 25, as part of Exercise Sudden Response 16 here at Fort Hood.

During the weeklong exercise, several units under JTF-CS, including the 172nd Hazard Response Company from Ft. Riley, Kansas, established and operated mass casualty decontamination lines in response to a simulated nuclear fallout.

This was the latest integration training for these units, which together make up the military's 5,000-strong Defense Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear Response Force, or DCRF. In total, Sudden Response 16 involved more than 2,000 military personnel from JTF Civil Support, the nation's only standing CBRN joint task force.

With the help of more than 200 civilian role players who acted as injured survivors of the nuclear disaster, the Soldiers in the exercise were responsible for decontaminating the role players and medically treating their various simulated injuries.

"(The role players) … allow us to relate to real world scenarios," said Capt. Melissa Moorehouse, commander of the 172nd Hazard Response Company. "These are our brothers, our sisters, our mothers. They're suffering, and you want to help them as much as you can, but you have to maintain order and discipline to get them through properly."

The mass-casualty decontamination began with Soldiers receiving the role players, sorting them according to the severity of their injuries: those who required urgent care, those who were ambulatory (walking), and those who are non-ambulatory.

Next, the role players were decontaminated, received medical treatment, and were then evacuated to another medical facility for further assistance.

Other aspects of the exercise included urban search and rescue, as well as logistics, aviation, communications and medical support.

The DCRF is a scalable response force ready to deploy within 24 hours to support local, state, tribal and federal agencies in the event of a large-scale chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear incident. It's composed of several Fort Hood units and units from across the country.

Unlike other military units that prepare for operations overseas, the DCRF is focused solely on the homeland. Its mission is to save lives, prevent further injury, and provide temporary critical support to enable community recovery.

"We want to save lives and mitigate human suffering," said Moorehouse.

"Conducting a large-scale exercise like this really helps us to be prepared so that … we're not overwhelmed and we can provide the care and assistance that's needed."