“To do an exercise like this … it’s a huge deal to bring all these people that are subject matter experts in to ensure that we are all talking the same language, in the event, that on America’s worst day we can respond quickly and effectively,” said Maj. Randall Bittner, officer in charge of operations and training, 16th Military Police Brigade.
Glowing screens in a tent across from Simmons Army Air Field depicted a large plume of toxic fall out emanating from the center of a map of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
16th MP Bde. Soldiers dispatched teams in support of search and rescue missions and orchestrated resources, providing support to civilian organizations such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency, during a chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear simulation.
This week-long exercise was a first-time collaboration for the 16th MP Bde. and the 44th Medical Brigade, both elements of the XVIII Airborne Corps.
Across the clearing from the MP’s tents, 44th Medical Bde. established a series of tents and began working to establish a patient evacuation coordination center.
Setting up a PECC from the ground up presented learning opportunities for the 44th Medical Bde.
“It’s a lot of trial and error … we are working out a lot of the kinks with our process,” said Sgt. Uwachomadu Okumabua, 44th Medical Bde. “The most significant thing is knowing what sounds good and what will actually work.”
The exercise involves multiple moving parts in the form of four different Task Forces: aviation, logistics, medical and operations.
The 16th MP Bde., as Task Force Operations brought capabilities that included treat triage search and extraction and decontamination as well as some engineer and route clearance support.
The 44th Medical Bde., as Task Force Medical, also worked to help with decontamination and contributed to enhancing capabilities including casualty evacuation, temporary hospitalization support, medical augmentations, veterinary support, patient staging and evacuation, medical logistics, alternate medical facilities and exposure monitoring.
“That’s all in the hopes for saving lives and mitigating suffering in a disaster like this,” said Bittner.
The FTX was held in preparation for an upcoming year-long mission with Joint Task Force – Civil Support, an emergency response JTF, which operates on the homeland in support of national emergencies.
“We are always Americans taking care of Americans. The homefront is always the number one priority,” explained Lt. Col. Jacob Bustoz, 44th Medical Bde.
The DCRF FTX, which spanned Feb. 13 to March 2, was carried out in preparation for a more extensive exercise planned for April at Camp Atterbury, Indiana.