by Spc. Devon Bistarkey
444th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment
4/24/2015 - JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J. -- Their
wails of pain sound real, their wounds look tangible, as the crowd of
men and women move toward the initial chemical response zone during a
Homeland Emergency Response Force training exercise on Joint Base
McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst April 17, 2015.
The week-long simulated, multiphase incident scenario training was
hosted at the Joint Base and involved partnerships between state,
federal and local agencies, including New Jersey and New York National
Guard units, state police, and urban search and rescue.
"Their day started on the Dix side of the joint base with a convoy of 41
vehicles that deployed to Lakehurst," said Steven Robertson, 87th Civil
Engineer Squadron readiness and emergency management chief. "Once they
arrived, were briefed on their requested mission and accepted the
assignment, all units deployed their individual equipment sets and
personnel to work in a coordinated fashion to support the exercise
incident commander's objectives."
In hazardous material suits, participants secured the area, organized
and treated disaster victims. The simulated scenario involved emergency
personnel responding to a building collapse, rescuing the 600 people
inside and providing care to 180 casualties.
"The NJ State Police Task Force 1 (Urban Search and Rescue Team)
collapse training area, located on the Lakehurst side of the JB, was an
ideal location to conduct this type field exercise," said Robertson.
Role players in full makeup emerged from an engineered pile of rubble
appearing disoriented and injured - that's when the exercise
participants kicked into high gear and responded immediately to the
"In [the Joint Base's Office of Emergency Management], we always welcome
the opportunity to participate in any exercise that minimizes
simulations, allows a realistic and complete test of capability and
furthers interoperable relationships," said Robertson. " This HRF
exercise was a major-league example of how a cooperative spirit can
directly translate to individual and regional operational excellence."
Realistic interoperability drills among a variety of agencies like this
ensures that agencies are trained, equipped and prepared to respond to
disasters at a moment's notice, according to Robertson.
"JB MDL's central New Jersey location provides superb regional options
for operations," he continued. "This, coupled with a unique and
extensive portfolio of highly capable mission and skill sets from across
the entire installation, enables MDL to support a wide range of events
in our region. Unrivaled mission partner collaboration is a key to
MDL's success in providing rapid and responsive emergency services and
world-class base and event support. In addition, the lynchpin to our
highly effective regional operations is the tremendously positive and
close working relationships we have with (local agencies)."
At the conclusion of the exercise, the simulated victims are treated and
the scene is cleared - an ideal ending to any situation.
"As infantrymen, we're used to engaging, but today we're here to help
civilians on the home front," said Spc. Joesph Margeotes of Colonia, New
Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst Public Affairs Office edited this story.