FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. — Organizations across Fort Leonard Wood came together for an installation-wide integration protection exercise May 25.
According to Troy Carney, an emergency management specialist here, the exercise helped agencies to be more prepared for natural disasters, and to practice protection measures to keep people safer.
“The purpose of this exercise is to help people and organizations do both,” he said. “When this is accomplished, it increases mission assurance and helps us self-assess our plans and procedures to ensure they are correct and executable.”
Carney said the scenario involved a simulated tornado, with the goal being to increase the installation population’s awareness while honing the skills of all involved.
The response required assistance from many agencies, Carney said. Medical teams treated injured personnel; an Emergency Family Assistance Center and temporary sheltering operations were set up by the Directorate of Family, Morale, Welfare and Recreation’s Army Community Service; and the Directorate of Public Works reestablished utilities.
Once the all-clear siren rang — indicating the tornado was no longer a threat in the area — the hangar filled with firefighters and emergency services personnel, who worked to triage the mock patients and evacuate them to safety.
Staff Sgt. Gered Doughty, a drill sergeant with Company A, 554th Engineer Battalion, brought 15 trainees to act as injured role players. Doughty said experiencing a drill like this helps build their confidence in the Army by teaching them to trust the systems, people and practices in place during emergency events.
“It’s important to show our newest Soldiers that these types of good, real-world trainings happen, and everybody is helping everybody,” he said. “Today, we are all working together to get this.”
Doughty called the extreme weather scenario highly possible, and he is correct — Fort Leonard Wood has gotten up close and personal with a tornado before.
Danny Howell, acting director of Sports, Fitness and Aquatics at Davidson Fitness Center — which was set up as an EFAC during the exercise — said he was working at DFC on New Year’s Eve in 2010, when a tornado touched down on the installation, causing extensive damage. In the aftermath, the facility was stood up to process several displaced families who had lost their homes — placing them in local hotels.
In this exercise, he worked to make sure DFC is prepared in case it ever happens again.
“If a tornado were to come through, and Davidson Fitness Center was spared, it would be stood-up as shelter operations because of the square footage,” he said. “We would house service members and their families, community members to ensure they had a place to sleep and shower, that was safe and secure.”
Role-playing scenarios like this are critical in case it happens again, he said.
“You know, people say lightning doesn’t strike twice,” he said. “Well, we don’t know that.”
More photos from the exercise are available on the Fort Leonard Wood Flickr page.