By Staff Sgt. Keith AndersonAugust 1, 2012
MUSCATATUCK URBAN TRAINING CENTER, Ind. (Aug. 1, 2012) -- Working with role-playing civilians from as far away as Michigan and Texas, personnel from U.S. Army North are creating realistic training scenarios involving "sick" and "injured" civilians for the thousands of service members in Indiana for Vibrant Response 13, a major incident exercise conducted by U.S. Northern Command and led by U.S. Army North.
At the Muscatatuck Urban Training Center and several other sites, civilians in moulage role-play victims of a simulated 10-kiloton nuclear detonation in a major Midwestern city, and its after-effects. Service members perform search and extraction missions, decontamination mission, medical triage, medical evacuation, radiation treatment and even fatality search and recovery missions with the role players.
"At Muscatatuck, there are 200 role-players and 11 displaced civilian facilitators," said Staff Sgt. William Velez, one of the Army North facilitators, who works with the civilians. "It's a twelve-hour day for the role-players. They start early in moulage, then work three hours on, one off, and so on."
Chrissy Branum, one of the role-players from nearby North Vernon, Ind., said the facilitators ensure she gets plenty of water and stays in the shade as much as possible. She said the work is pretty good.
"The waiting and the heat is the hardest part," said Branum. "But it's lots of fun, and the make-up is fun. And the Army North facilitators have been very professional and helpful."
Oscar Vargas, a mechanical engineering major at the University of Texas -- El Paso, traveled all the way to Indiana from El Paso, Texas, to work as a role player during Vibrant Response 13.
"I wanted to do it because it's something new, a new experience," said Vargas. "And, for my age, it's good money. When they paint me and when I have to act, it's been fun."
Staff Sgt. Jason Proefrock, another one of the Army North facilitators, said there are a few differences between leading Soldiers and working with civilians.
"The hardest part of managing civilians is that they're not military," said Proefrock. "You have to get away from Army jargon and use a language they understand."
Proefrock, an Army intelligence analyst, said the experience has helped him grow as a leader.
"It has taught me new ways to manage," said Proefrock. "Mainly, treat them as you would want to be treated, that's the biggest thing."
Ali Jadou, who was born in Baghdad, Iraq, and has lived in the United States since fourth grade, traveled from Dearborn, Mich., with several friends to work as a role player.
"I think it's pretty cool," said Jadou. "My father served with the Army. I wanted to get the experience working with the military. I want to join the Air Force after I finish college."
Michael Spina, "displaced civilians" team leader, said the experience working with Army North and with role-players has been very special to him.
"I was turned down for Vietnam -- they said I had kidney problems," said Spina. "That bothered me all these years. Now what am I doing? I'm right here with the military; I'm doing something for my country. I put my heart and soul into this."
Spina, a former missionary and preacher, said the training that Army North is leading for the nation's military response forces and the work of the role players is very important.
"The whole purpose of it is to keep people alive," said Spina.