Thursday, April 25, 2013

National Guard Chemical Attack Exercise Draws Support from American Red Cross

Mary (Jacoby) Hastings
By Mary (Jacoby) Hastings

Members of the Army and Air Force National Guard from Colorado and other states joined together for a mock disaster simulation at the West Metro Fire Training Academy in Lakewood the weekend of April 19-21. At the invitation of the Guard, volunteers with the American Red Cross Disaster Services team conducted a feeding exercise, providing snacks and water to the military all three days. Service to Armed Forces volunteers staffed an information table and distributed military information bags.

Over the course of that weekend, role players acting as victims of a disaster involving a chemical attack moaned and groaned as practicing triage teams assessed how to treat each. Makeup was applied to the actors to enhance the illusion of serious injuries. “Victims” were loaded onto stretchers and treated in makeshift facilities that resembled primitive M.A.S.H. units. Decontamination units were also set up and utilized.

Cold temperatures and high winds made the exercises more challenging. By Sunday, wind gusts proved too much for the huge tents that had been held down by weights as they blew from their foundations. Nevertheless, the event was scheduled to continue, rain or snow or shine—disasters don’t stop for the weather and neither do our first responders.

It was difficult to write this particular blog given what transpired the day following the simulation. It was particularly surreal watching events unfold at the Boston Marathon on Boylston Street immediately after observing our local first responders during a mock exercise.

Tragedies like the bombings in Boston on April 15, 2013, explain why men and women in uniform practice continually.

Every soldier and airman that visited the Red Cross station for sustenance expressed gratitude for the services of the American Red Cross.

After interviewing some of the military personnel at the simulation, it was apparent that these individuals took the emergency exercises seriously and would be ready for the call when needed.

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