By Dave CampbellAugust 20, 2010
FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. -- Warm ups ending last week, Fort Campbell began testing its reflexive muscles Wednesday, to see how communication might flow in an emergency situation and how the collective response effort might look.
Individual agency representatives role-played to test their information gathering and decision making, given the scenario of a tornado on Fort Campbell.
Ringing phones kept the room hopping in a flurry of activity that closely resembled a game of ping pong between the Emergency Operations and Battle Command Training centers.
Jay Fangman, Emergency Manager agreed, that analogy works because of how the exercise unfolded, and how it might look, should a real event ever occur.
"We plan for everything," Fangman said. "It's part of the 'all hazards concept' the Army has, to assess anything that could happen."
Other than tornadoes and terrorist attacks, Fangman offered that running these scenarios help prepare Fort Campbell for a variety of situations by involving all the key players.
Incidents ranging from earthquakes to flooding, to hurricanes, Fangman said the installation should be prepared to provide any support or resources needed.
Danny Greene, Fort Campbell emergency manager, orchestrated the tornado response scenario on the floor at the EOC, Wednesday, as information was collected to assess the "overall situation" of a fictional event.
"This is called the common operating picture," Fangman said. "First responders at an incident site relate what's going on to EOC personnel who then gather the information for the Garrison Commander."
Trainer Paul Rivette said it poses the question to all involved, like police and fire crews, 'What would you do in a real emergency''
Though some are trained to respond quickly in crisis situations at times a real-world event might require anyone to be the first one on the ground reporting to EOC.
For instance, in the event of a building fire, someone might call to report electrical wires down, Rivette said, and from there EOC starts managing assets.
"This is the place where everything comes together," he said.
Role players at BCTC represented the ones on the scene in the simulation of the tornado scenario with good results, according to newly hired Fort Campbell Fire Chief Kevin Baylor.
He admits that there is no way to always know every possible problem in an emergency, he said. "But I've only been here five months and [today] brings down the wall of not knowing people. And it prepares you for the real thing. It was very positive."
Civilian director of the exercise, Reggie Berry believed everyone had a good handle on the situation, with information that provided Garrison Executive Officer, Lt. Col. Fred Wintrich with briefings to "make rapid decisions."
"We had a well-trained staff," Berry said. "They have the tasks and procedures in place for that next step in the event of a real situation."
The exercise continued Thursday introducing an active-shooter scenario involving how to respond in a hostage situation.