News: Tornado Alley comes to MUTC
Story by Staff Sgt. Brad Staggs
BUTLERVILLE, Ind. - The aftermath of a tornado is a difficult thing to see. Clothes flung everywhere, vehicles overturned, and buildings lying in rubble. Luckily, Muscatatuck Urban Training Center is only playing the part of a city hit by a tornado for the Indiana Department of Homeland Security's 2012 emergency response exercise, Tornado Alley.
After weeks of preparation, MUTC has taken on the look and feel of a tornado disaster area. Fire and effects are readied and old clothes donated have been strewn across the campus while mannequins stick out of overturned vehicles and collapsed structures waiting to be rescued.
On April 23, the word went out that a mock tornado had touched down at Greensburg, Ind., a city of 11,000 being portrayed by MUTC and IDHS District 4 was to respond. District 4 includes Benton, Warren, Fountain, White, Cass, Carroll, Clinton, Tippecanoe and Montgomery counties in west central Indiana.
Day one of the exercise tested the abilities of several different Indiana law enforcement, fire, emergency rescue, and National Guard agencies to work together. Firemen from Lafayette, Ind., worked alongside police units from Logansport, Ind., while a task force from Attica, Ind., manned the command and control cell, giving instructions to the emergency responders.
Mayor Robert Shepherd of Attica came to Muscatatuck to observe his Emergency Management Team in action and to see the facility itself.
"I'm thrilled with what I've seen here," Shepherd said. "Our folks are doing a wonderful job and this facility is amazing. I don't think the people of Indiana or Attica really appreciate what's here."
Emergency responders began lining up along the roads inside of Muscatatuck early in the morning, waiting to find out where they could be the most help. They were inundated with the sights and sounds of a city in distress with victims on rooftops, smoke and fire, and impassable roads. There was no time to stop and take it all in as the responders were immediately thrown into an intense situation.
A mock explosion and fire at a local gas station caught the attention of firefighters during a rescue in a nearby collapsed parking garage, but that was just the beginning as an explosion rocked the mock oil refinery, sending the firemen to another emergency call while still handling the first two.
According to Clinton County Emergency Management Director Darrell Sanders, the IDHS training at Muscatatuck could make all of the difference between life and death.
"I couldn't be happier with what I've seen here," said Sanders, who has 10 emergency responders participating in the exercise. "We've been in the classroom, but to actually get boots on the ground and hands-on experience is priceless."
Sanders said he wishes that his people received this training more than just once a year. In his dream scenario, there would be a training exercise like this every quarter.
Each individual praised the Muscatatuck facility for its realism and people, something that the Indiana National Guard and the Atterbury-Muscatatuck Complex take very seriously.
"MUTC is excited to host the IDHS training Exercise," said MUTC Executive Officer Steve Satterlee. "Our goal is to ensure the training is as real as it gets and provides the most cost effective training to our customers. The entire MUTC team really enjoys these training events."