Military News

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

JB MDL hosts large scale, multi-agency exercise

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 situation.

"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 Jersey.

Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst Public Affairs Office edited this story.

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