News: 133rd AW conducts statewide joint disaster exercise
Story by Staff Sgt. Jonathan Young
DULUTH, Minn. - The 133rd Airlift Wing conducted a statewide interagency domestic operations response exercise in cooperation with supporting civilian agencies Sept. 16-22.
The main scenario of Exercise Boreas Reach revolved around a terrorist attack in Duluth, Minn., that would necessitate evacuating injured and hospitalized civilians to the Twin Cities and all others to Camp Ripley, Minn.
The exercise began with the terrorist incident involving potentially a very high number of casualties.
The scenario had members of the 133rd Airlift Wing aiding local entities in the evacuation via C-130 “Hercules” airlift of patients from St. Luke and St. Mary’s Hospitals in Duluth to the 133rd AW for ground transport at Abbott, Hennepin County Medical Center and North Memorial hospitals for further simulated medical care.
Local Red Cross workers and an Enroute Patient Staging System, consisting of 13 airmen from the 133rd Medical Group, were set up at the 148th Fighter Wing to stabilize patients and prepare them before an aeromedical evacuation flight.
“Our mission is to stabilize and safely evacuate patients from the local hospitals, combining local and military medical tracking systems, to ensure patients arrive safely to the Twin Cities hospitals with the proper paperwork,” said Maj. Michael Cook, acting ERPSS director .
The headquarters of the 133rd AW in Minneapolis exercised their emergency operations center where they coordinated operations between all of the airmen and civilian agencies around the state.
David Schoeneck, Red Cross liaison at the EOC, said this is a great opportunity for us to check that our systems are in place and to learn from the Air National Guard and other Red Cross partners and ultimately improve reaction to disasters.
“The Red Cross is excited to learn more about how the Air Force responds in this kind of situation,” Schoeneck added
Lt. Col. Jim Wentzlaff, the Emergency Operations Center Lite Director for the operations at Camp Ripley, said this was a great opportunity to learn how to work hand-in-hand with civilian agencies during a crisis.
Wentzlaff oversaw the role of the 152 members of the 133rd AW who participated in the exercise at Camp Ripley.
Junior Reserve Officer Training and Civilian Air Patrol cadets volunteered to play the roles of displaced citizens and patients who had a variety of issues and required the action of wing members and civilian agencies.
Wentzlaff explained that people showed up at the gates of Camp Ripley ill, with displaced pets, lost medication and various other needs.
Additional scenarios such as power and communication outages, a hazardous material incident, simulated active shooter and many others were added to the exercise, adding to the realism of the overall exercise by forcing airmen and their resources to adapt to a variety of realistic situations.
Exercise Boreas Reach involved utilizing a multitude of varying 133rd AW resources along with civilian agencies, providing a unique opportunity for both airmen and civilians to learn from each other when facing a domestic disaster here in Minnesota.