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    Soldiers Train for America's Worst Nightmare

    No Looking Back

    Photo By Staff Sgt. Crystal Milton | U.S. Army Reserve Soldiers from Madison, Wisconsin, based 409th Area Support Medical...... read more read more



    Story by Sgt. Crystal Milton 

    207th Public Affairs Detachment

    BUTLERVILLE, Ind. – “Help me! There’s been a terrible blast,” cried one of many voices cutting through the darkness and smoke-filled night air.

    Volunteer casualties cycled through a mass casualty decontamination area, run by U.S. Army Reserve Soldiers from the 414th Chemical Company and the 409th Area Support Medical Company (ASMC) on May 8, 2017 at Muscatatuck Urban Training Center (MUTC) as part of Guardian Response 17. Nearly 4,100 Soldiers from across the country are participating in the multi-component training exercise designed to validate U.S. Army units’ ability to support the Defense Support of Civil Authorities (DSCA) in the event of a Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear (CBRN) catastrophe.

    “We’re providing medical support such as medical assessment and evacuation, route clearance for emergency personnel, and hazardous decontamination for the 414th,” said U.S. Army Reserve Spc. Jessica Bickler, a healthcare specialist with the 409th ASMC out of Madison, Wisconsin. “Our main priority is to save as many people as we can and then from there prevent further injury. We can only do that if we respond as quickly and safely as possible.”

    The medical personnel work with simulated decontamination fluid in the frigid night temperatures, cutting the clothing from victims and treating their wounds. Responding to a simulated nuclear explosion, the Soldiers responded to several different types of casualties, ranging from minor injuries to death. To ensure that they were not contaminated by the nuclear radiation, Soldiers fulfilled their duties while wearing hazmat suits called mission oriented protective posture (MOPP) gear.

    “The biggest challenge during this training is stepping outside our comfort zone,” said Bickler. “We’re not CBRN [personnel], we’re medical personnel. We’ve never gotten in [hazmat] suits. It’s hard work. It’s definitely been a challenge for a lot of our Soldiers and we’ve really worked through it by just training.”

    The high-volume, fast-paced environment is crucial to prepare Soldiers for real-life circumstances.

    “This is one of several missions we’ll run throughout the duration of a mass casualty situation,” said U.S. Army Reserve 1st Lt. Erin Lovinus, a medical liaison officer here with the 409th ASMC. “We’ll be treating between 60 and 80 casualties per hour. We’ll carry this mission on anywhere from 12 to 15 hours (per iteration). This exercise is as realistic as it can be.”

    Guardian Response pushes Soldiers in realistic scenarios to ensure they reach a level of comfort performing DSCA and CBRN tasks if the need arises.

    “If we were deployed tomorrow, this training would have been effective in every single way. Whether it’s just building leadership, camaraderie, or enhancing my medical skills,” said Bickler. “This mission has helped me in so many different ways.”



    Date Taken: 05.09.2017
    Date Posted: 05.11.2017 14:32
    Story ID: 233503
    Location: BUTLERVILLE, IN, US 
    Hometown: MADISON, WI, US
    Hometown: ORANGEBURG, SC, US

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