BAGHDAD - It is 10 a.m. sharp. A loud boom echoes across the motor pool, accompanied by thick, acrid smoke and an amplified voice announcing, "Exercise, exercise, exercise!" Casualties lay on the ground, writhing in faux pain, waiting to be attended to.
On May 3, Soldiers from Task Force Twister, the garrison command of Victory Base Complex, and the Division Special Troops Battalion held a mass casualty exercise at Camp Liberty. The purpose of the exercise was to certify that personnel in a combat environment are able to respond to a mass casualty event effectively.
Capt. Alec Kinczewski, the battle captain assigned to DSTB, said MASCAL exercises are important because they present situations in which personnel are challenged to figure out ways to respond to casualties, put out fires and repair buildings.
For example, the recent exercise included two points of impact in an attempt to present a realistic scenario that would stretch the limits of those responding.
"By using two points of impact we forced our military police and medics to make decisions on how to distribute their assets and test our lines of reporting and communication," said Kinczewski.
After confirming the points of impact with personnel at the VBC Base Defense Operations Center, the Soldiers at the battalion operations center called the battalion aid station to dispatch medics to the scene. The BDOC then directed emergency medical services and Soldiers from the Witmer Troop Medical Clinic to send medical assets to the impact sites.
As the battalion medics arrived at one of the impact sites Soldiers with injuries ranging from mild to severe were receiving initial medical assessments from first responders.
"I was glad that the EMS was there attending to the casualties' injuries already," said Sgt. Eric Johnson, a medic assigned to the battalion aid station. "Having them there allowed the medics to identify the four most severely injured and evacuate them as soon as possible," said Johnson.
As the EMS personnel and medics finished triaging the victims and began to evacuate the casualties from both sites, the garrison future operations officer stood by with a stopwatch, evaluating the response times of those participating in the exercise.
"I think the response time and actions on the objective were very good," said Capt. Gregory Carlson, the future operations officer with the 561st Regional Support Group, United States Forces - Iraq. "Each unit began to assess the situation and assist where needed. In addition they worked together as a team [and] cross-talked with other first responders on the ground to facilitate mission accomplishment."
The exercise ended as all casualties were transported to medical facilities and control of the sites was transferred to the Liberty Mayor cell for consequence management.
"Overall I thought the exercise went well; it consisted of realistic training that tested our response time and was appropriate to our environment," said Carlson. "Everyone involved worked toward a common goal of taking care of Soldiers that were in need of medical attention in an expedient manner."