'Vibrant Response' teams respond to homeland emergency

By Staff Sgt. Brad StaggsNovember 9, 2009

Vibrant Response
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Vibrant Response
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BUTLERVILLE, Ind. (Nov. 9, 2009) -- The federal emergency response exercise Vibrant Response taking place at Camp Atterbury and other sites in Indiana is training troops how to respond to an emergency on American soil.

On Sunday, a building at Muscatatuck Urban Training Center in southern Indiana was set up to portray a nursing home in an outlying area of Indianapolis following a nuclear blast. Fifteen role players were assigned to the building to act as residents of the nursing home who needed to be saved and cared for by Army medical personnel.

"We volunteered for this because we wanted to experience it and see some cool stuff," said John McGill, one of six students majoring in Homeland Security at Vincennes University who took part in the vignette. "And we wanted an MRE [Meal Ready to Eat]."

Each role player was given a different injury or affliction that the medical personnel had to attend to while removing the people from a possibly contaminated area. The role players also were coached on how to act toward the rescue personnel. The medical personnel arriving to help these victims, however, had no idea what to expect.

As a husband and wife role-playing team walked around the building appearing confused and looking for the "Bingo Bus," a medical team rolled onto the scene with only one vehicle. They quickly discovered that they needed much more.

Three more medical teams arrived to assist with the evacuation with the "injured" who remained in character until the very end.

Ambulatory patients and nursing home residents were quickly placed into military ambulances while those who couldn't walk were cared for. Bandages were put in place where needed and the medical teams tried to calm the patients and residents who were shaken by their experience of living through a nuclear blast.

But one resident could not be calmed. In her scenario, she could not be convinced that her "husband" was actually dead. In her role she believed her husband was merely unconscious and refused to let go of his body.

Staff Sgt. Bryan Jimenez, a Muscatatuck Soldier playing the part of a local policeman, was impressed.

"Wow, she was good," Jimenez exclaimed. "I actually felt sorry for her and started getting mad that the medic wasn't getting her away from her husband's body."

At the end of the day, the Army medics left with a much better understanding of how to deal with people who are neighbors and friends.

(Staff Sgt. Brad Staggs writes for Muscatatuck Urban Training Center Public Affairs.)