MUSCATATUCK URBAN TRAINING COMPLEX, Ind. - During the Vibrant Response 13 field training exercise, conducted by U.S. Northern Command and led by U.S. Army North, Joint Task Force Civil Support units trained and demonstrated their ability to support civilian authorities.

Civilian firefighters from the Fort Knox Fire Protection Team joined their military counterparts at the Muscatatuck Urban Training Complex, Ind., during the homeland disaster training and displayed their technical rescue skills in a search and rescue training venue, Aug. 10.

"We see this Vibrant Response exercise as a great opportunity to practice our certified training and possibly learn new techniques working with other technical rescue units," said Marvin Gunderson, chief fire and emergency services officer at Fort Knox, Ky.

During the training venue, the Kentucky firefighters were responsible for rescuing mannequins, posing as civilians, trapped in vehicles within a collapsed rubble pile.

After using bracing and shoring techniques to strengthen the collapsed area encasing the vehicles, firefighters entered the rubble pile and used hydraulic rescue tools to cut away at the vehicles exterior frame so they could extract the mannequins inside.

"Not only do we do this type of training on a regular basis, but we respond to over 300 automobile accidents a year; it's one of our main rescue missions so they have a lot of experience doing it," said Gunderson.

Once the mannequins were rescued from the vehicles, the Fort Knox team used improvised medical litters to evacuate the personnel to the nearest medical facility for further treatment.

Vibrant Response 13 is the third time the Kentucky firefighters have participated in the annual homeland disaster training exercise.

Over the past few weeks, approximately 9,000 service members and civilians have participated in the exercise, which is designed to conduct lifesaving and life-sustaining missions, provide logistics support to a theater of operations and perform technical chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear consequence management tasks and civil support plans.

"We all appreciate the training and experience we get from participating in this event," said John Garcia, a Fort Knox firefighter and native of Rineyville, Ky.

Garcia and the five other members of the Fort Knox team that participated in the exercise believe the Vibrant Response event provides invaluable lessons that you probably will not learn possibly while participating in other training events.

"This is some of the best real-world rescue training you're ever going to get," said Garcia. "Every year we look forward to coming, because we get to do what we love to do and work alongside troops that do the same thing."

Vibrant Response 13, which began mid-July, is scheduled to end later this month.