News: Local National Guard Unit completes first stage of Homeland Response Force training
Story by Spc. Brian Johnson
CHILLICOTHE, Ohio – A building and the attached parking garage collapses. Local first responders become overwhelmed with the rescue effort and have requested assistance.
To their aid come members of the Search and Extraction team of the Ohio National Guard’s Homeland Response Force.
This is the scenario that played out for members of the 1194th Engineer Company during their Search and Extraction training, July 13, at Camp Sherman.
The S and E team is part of the Ohio National Guard's Homeland Response Force. The Homeland Response Force is one of 10 organizations nationally that can respond to a chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear disaster.
More than 50 members of the Camp Sherman based 1194th Engineer Company, which includes soldiers who are carpenters, plumbers, and electricians, will assume this highly specialized mission as it transitions back to their unit over the next few months.
In their final evaluation exercise, the S and E team soldiers were tested on the training that they had received during the previous week. This training included confined space rescue training, rappelling and ropes training, breaching and breaking, building stabilization, and the concepts of mechanical advantage.
To help add to the realism of the training, the evaluation exercise was conducted at the Structural Collapse Simulator on the edge of the Camp Sherman training site. The site includes multiple training aids, to include concrete rubble piles, a training tower, and multiple pipes and tubes to help simulate a confined space rescue.
The team was being evaluated by members of the Oklahoma City based Response International Group.
RIG is a leader in the field of first response, having served as the first responders to such notable tragedies as the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster, the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Hurricane Katrina, and the (Alfred P.) Murrah building explosion in Oklahoma City in 1995. Its instructors are all current or former firefighters.
DeWayne Torres, the training manager for the RIG Oklahoma City training site and a 23-year firefighter veteran, was pleased with the outcome of the final exercise.
“This exercise helps us to see what information that was trained was retained,” explained Torres. “It allows us to see if the soldiers can think outside of the box and be able to perform in a potential real world mission.”
During the five hours that the evaluation was conducted, the soldiers were taking part in multiple rescue missions of more than a dozen simulated casualties’ from a variety of situations. While one team works to rescue casualties’ from a simulated collapsed building, other teams are conducting a simulated crushed vehicle rescue and multiple confined space rescues.
Staff Sgt. Reggie Netter from Frankfort is able to bring a different perspective to the exercise. Netter was a member of the team when the 1194th had the mission previously more than three years ago. He also is a Chillicothe City police officer.
“I am able to offer additional assistance to the soldiers because of some of the real world training that I have,” explained Netter. “I can look at a scene from the viewpoint of not only a soldier, but a police officer also and potentially offer a different perspective.”
Netter explained that the biggest challenge that the team will have is to not always think of things from a soldier’s perspective, but also from the perspective of a first responder.
“While the challenges may look the same, they may not always be the same,” said Netter. “As a group, we have to be able to think outside of the box.”
At the end of the exercise, all of the simulated causalities had been rescued and the soldiers had completed the first part of their training.
The members of the S and E team will go through many months of additional training and evaluation exercises before being officially certified to take over their part of the HRF mission.
This work, Local National Guard Unit completes first stage of Homeland Response Force training, by SGT Brian Johnson, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.