By Maj. Nancie Margetis
183rd Fighter Wing Public Affairs
The largest annual National Guard training exercise is underway at Volk Field Combat Readiness Training Center and Fort McCoy.
Close to a thousand people are converging on Volk Field this week for emergency response training July 11 through 23. Patriot 2011 is an international large-scale training exercise bringing community and federal agencies together with military organizations from several states and three countries. Units are working to develop best practices and refine emergency responses for a variety of contingencies, from terrorist threats to train accidents and exposure from hazardous material spills.
National Guard Soldiers and Airmen will work alongside federal agencies, including the FBI and U.S. Postal Inspectors, FEMA and the U.S. Department of Energy, and the Wisconsin Disaster Medical Assistance Team. Their aim is coordination of incident response, medical triage and patient care, search and extraction, control of hazardous materials and logistics that includes movement of equipment.
Col. Matthew Moorman of the Ohio Air National Guard briefs Wisconsin's Disaster Medical Assistance Team during the domestic operations portion of the 2011 Patriot Exercise July 13 at the Volk Field Combat Readiness Training Center, Wis. This is the first year that the DMAT - a volunteer-based force that responds to disasters in Wisconsin - is participating in Patriot. Ohio Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Amy N. Adducchio
A primary goal of Patriot 2011 will be successful movement and validation of an equipment package used in response to disasters involving chemical biological, radiological, nuclear and high-yield explosives. These materials, emergency response force packages, or CERF-P are in place in multiple regional locations throughout the nation, ready for ground transport. But this exercise will test whether the entire component package, designed to handle large scale emergencies, will travel well on military aircraft.
The National Guard Bureau's Crisis Action Team will also lead participants in simulated scenarios enabling them to hone skills that track and treat casualties, dispel terrorist threats, coordinate air transport, control crowds and decontaminate affected areas and persons.
This is significant because it teaches independent organizations with similar or dependent missions to communicate in ways that foster mutual understanding, making it easier to get things done when it is most critical. The training they do here will translate easily to situations they could face in their home states or regions. Emergency responders from Holland and Canada are also participating in the training event.
Volk Field is a National Guard Combat Readiness Training Center in Wisconsin. The center is large enough to house and maintain all of the participants and host several training scenarios in appropriate environments simultaneously. But some of the scenarios require more specific environmental arrangements. To enhance the realistic effect for participants in those cases, elements of the training, like invasion of a terrorist safehouse by FBI and National Guard security force personnel will take place at nearby Ft. McCoy, which already has a suitable house built for that purpose.
Local residents may notice an increase in air traffic as a result of the exercise. Some training may occur at low altitudes and in the evening, especially near Volk Field and Fort McCoy. Area residents with questions or concerns should contact Volk Field at 1-800-972-8673.