An explosion rocked a hangar on Simmons Army Airfield June 27 and sent troopers into a frenzy of action as they exited the building to find many of their own wounded.

Fortunately, Atlas paratroopers of the 122nd Aviation Support Battalion, 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade, were pleasantly surprised when they realized the explosion they were responding to was part of a mass casualty training exercise.

1st Lt. Michael Phillips, executive officer, Company B, 122nd ASB, was in charge of the training and said the command wanted to see how well the Soldiers would react to such an event.

“The purpose of this exercise is to expose our paratroopers to this type of environment,” Phillips said. “This event can bring a lot of chaos and we want our troops to be prepared for the possibility they may have to react to this type of thing in the real world.”

Chief Warrant Officer 2 Reginald Crowell, platoon leader, Co. B, 122nd ASB, said the All American aviators are being trained to understand the importance of establishing a casualty collection point and maintaining accountability when presented with this type of event.

“The key is readiness,” Crowell said. “We want our troopers to be prepared for any environment they may have to work in.”

For some of the men and women of Company B, the training was their first time to respond to a mass casualty exercise.

“I have been in the Army for six years and other than during deployments, I have not been involved with this type of training,” said Spc. Andrew Ciccino, of Co. B. “I think it is very important as a Soldier to be prepared.”

The mass casualty, along with other types of casualty care training, will be a part of Atlas Battalion’s training routine moving forward.

“As we prepare to support the U.S. global response force, we want to ensure our troopers know how to respond to any environment they might be called to serve in,” Crowell said. “Training is the best way to ensure success.”