Girl Scouts help first responders train during Alaska Shield

364th Press Camp Headquarters
Story by Staff Sgt. Shane Dorschner

Date: 03.29.2014
Posted: 04.01.2014 22:46
News ID: 123661
Girl Scouts help first responders train during Alaska Shield 14

CORDOVA, Alaska - Members of Girl Scout Troop 285 participated in a mock disaster drill at The Red Dragon in conjunction with Alaska Shield 14 here March 29, 2014.

The drill was done in support of civil disaster emergency response training and included members of the Cordova Volunteer Fire Department and soldiers from the 1-297th Reconnaissance and Surveillance Squadron of the Alaska National Guard.

Girl scouts, 11 and 12 years old, staged the building to appear like the roof had caved in to coincide with the citywide mock tsunami drill. They covered the floor with debris and donned makeup to give the appearance of serious injuries.

Within minutes of the initial call, fire trucks and ambulances responded with EMT's, first responders and firemen. Shortly after that, soldiers from the Alaska National Guard A-troop, 1-297th Reconnaissance and Surveillance Squadron arrived to assist.

Both firemen and soldiers entered the litter strewn structure to rescue the Girl Scouts. The Girl Scouts had been coached how to act like trauma victims by screaming and moaning to make the scenario more realistic.

“The girls really loved getting all moulaged up,” said Joanie Behrends, Cordova emergency management planner. Moulage is the art of applying mock injuries for the purpose of training emergency response teams and other medical and military personnel.

The soldiers and firemen escorted ambulatory victims out of the building. The non-ambulatory victims were carried out on stretchers. EMT's and first responders then assessed the injuries and applied first aid prior to placing them on an ambulance if the injuries warranted further treatment.

“We've been doing this for years,” said Behrends. “Many of the girls that did this in the past grew up to be firefighters.”

They do this through a program called “Explorers,” which allows high school students in Cordova to work with the Cordova Volunteer Fire Department in a service support role. Duties for the Explorers include changing air packs and providing water to firefighters.

This and other preparedness drills were performed in Cordova in conjunction with other federal, state and local exercises throughout Alaska in support of Alaska Shield 14.

Alaska Shield 14 is an exercise that involves state, federal, military and local agencies, designed to test the response and coordination of the disaster modeled after the 1964 earthquake and subsequent tsunami that devastated much of South Central Alaska including the city of Cordova.