News: Civilian role players add realism, evoke emotions during Army North-led VR 13-2 exercise
Story by Sgt. Juana Nesbitt
MUSCATATUCK URBAN TRAINING CENTER, Ind. – From all walks of life they come, men and women of various ages. They are the 100-plus civilian role players at the Muscatatuck Urban Training Center during Vibrant Response 13-2, a major field training exercise designed to facilitate timely coordination and response between local, state and federal agencies to disasters in the homeland to help the American people in time of need.
“We have units coming here to train on how to handle a nuclear disaster,” said Sgt. Ronald Spous, of Desoto, Mo., a displaced civilian controller with the U.S. Army Reserve’s 1035th Support Maintenance Company, based at Jefferson Barracks, Mo.
“The civilian role players help create a very realistic environment”.
“It’s what it needs to be; that way, if an incident were to happen in real life, everybody knows what to do and it’s like muscle memory,” said Spous.
Bright and early each day, the role players receive their missions, don their costumes and go through makeup for their simulated injuries, said Ann Stevens of Columbus, Ind., a role player with Mission Essential Company, based at Columbus, Ohio.
“What I am doing today is acting like I am near a blast site; I have minor neck and arm abrasions to the right arm and right side of my face,” said Stevens.
As the service members encounter the role players, they assess their notional injuries to determine what care will be needed, said Stevens.
Stevens explained that although her simulated injuries were minor, it was her goal for the day to try and get the service member to treat her before attending to a more severely injured patient.
“It is their job to create a stressful environment and to get the responders to react to what they might encounter in a real-world incident,” said Spous.
“The service members get frustrated sometimes because certain role players ask for the same thing over and over,” said Spous. “It forces them to either get the person what they need or provide an answer to that individual.”
During the training, approximately 5,700 service members and civilians from the military and other local, state and federal agencies service members encounter various scenarios, to which they have to react.
As responders are submerged into a simulated catastrophic domestic incident, they start developing empathy toward the role players. A part of their mission is to make the right decisions without getting overly flustered when dealing with them, explained Spous.
The civilian role players put a tremendous effort in evoking emotional responses by the responders to add to the realism of the exercise.
“We had one soldier who actually started crying when helping a role player who had lost her husband in the simulated incident,” said Spous. “It was just too much; he had to wipe the tears away.”
The civilian role players said they felt exercises like Vibrant Response are essential.
“It’s important for us to be out here with them and helping them get better so they can be prepared for this kind of incident,” said Stevens. “It’s great. I love it.”
This work, Civilian role players add realism, evoke emotions during Army North-led VR 13-2 exercise, by SGT Juana Nesbitt, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.