News: 178th engineers conduct Urgent Response Exercise
Story by Sgt. Diandra Harrell
FORT POLK, La. - With memories of the devastation of Hurricane Katrina and the more recent Superstorm Sandy still on the minds of Americans, it is very important that our nation be prepared to handle a man-made or natural disaster.
The 1st Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, along with different units from all over the U.S. in support of Joint Task Force-Civil Support, joined together in Fort Polk, La., to train in the event they are called forward to help local agencies save lives and restore a sense of normalcy to the affected population.
As part of their Defense Chemical, Radiological, Biological and Nuclear Response Force mission, the 178th engineers participated in an Urgent Response Field Training Exercise held at their home station in Fort Polk.
The overall the purpose of this exercise is to prove the concept of bringing together functional units into a multifunctional task force, known as a response task force.
“This training is also used as an opportunity for soldiers to hone their skills to better prepare them for a real-world mission,” said Ellis.
During this exercise the engineers will train on the five disciplines, which are trench rescue, collapsed structure, vehicle machinery extraction, rope rescue, and confined space rescue.
“This is a good opportunity to train on our disciplines,” said Staff Sgt. Gary A. Butler, the platoon sergeant for 1st Platoon, 178th Engineer Company, 46th Engineer Battalion. “These skills are perishable and this is our chance to fine tune our soldiers' abilities.”
The engineers are expected to use their equipment to check for chemical contamination and negotiate collapsed buildings in order to help rescue survivors trapped in the debris.
Prior to moving into the hot zone, the engineers were sent through a medical station to ensure they were in good health before entering the contaminated area.
“We check their blood pressure and temperature before and after they enter the contaminated area,” said Pfc. Jermain Miles, a medic from the 601st Area Support Medical Company of Fort Bragg, N.C.
Once they are given the green light from medical personnel, the engineers will don their gear and move forward into the contaminated area.
The soldiers move out in two, four-person teams along with a team of military policemen for extra protection. The first team is the reconnaissance team who goes in and measures the amount of radiation within the area.
Once the first team is complete, the second team goes in to conduct a technical search and rescue, using their five disciplines. As survivors are located, they are sent through a massive casualty decontamination line so they can receive medical evaluations to assess their need for additional treatment.
The teams continue rotations in and out of the hot zone until all affected persons within the danger areas are located.
“This training was very helpful,” said Spc. Willie Jordan, a member of 4th Platoon, 178th Engineer Company, 46th Engineer Battalion.
“This training is for sustainability,” said Butler. "If another storm like Katrina were to happen and we have to react to it and we aren’t able to do our jobs, it would slow down process of helping the American people.”