Mass casualty exercise tests preparedness of Camp Liberty’s first responders

| May 5, 2011 | 0 Comments
Soldiers in 25th ID prepare to move a simulated casualty to a central treatment location during a mass casualty training exercise, at Camp Liberty, Iraq, April 25. (Sgt. 1st Class Jon Soucy | 29th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment)

Soldiers in 25th ID prepare to move a simulated casualty to a central treatment location during a mass casualty training exercise, at Camp Liberty, Iraq, April 25. (Sgt. 1st Class Jon Soucy | 29th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment)

Sgt. Jennifer Sardam
29th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

BAGHDAD — Night had settled over Camp Liberty, here, as the shrill sound of an alarm shattered the silence, and a booming voice from a loud speaker announced, “incoming, incoming, incoming.”

A blast and a fiery flash pierced the air, as thick, pungent smoke rapidly engulfed the area. Soldiers searched the chaotic scene, pounding feverishly on doors and calling out as they found casualties.

The attack was simulated, and the “wounded” were Soldiers role-playing. It was all part of a mass casualty exercise, held recently, to test the response and coordination capabilities of a number of different military and civilian agencies, here.

Soldiers in 25th ID carry a simulated casualty to a central treatment location during a mass casualty training exercise at Camp Liberty, Iraq, April 25. The exercise scenario had Soldiers role-playing during a mock rocket attack, to test the capabilities of medical response teams and other organizations that would respond should an actual mass casualty event take place. (Sgt. 1st Class Jon Soucy | 29th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment)

Soldiers in 25th ID carry a simulated casualty to a central treatment location during a mass casualty training exercise at Camp Liberty, Iraq, April 25. The exercise scenario had Soldiers role-playing during a mock rocket attack, to test the capabilities of medical response teams and other organizations that would respond should an actual mass casualty event take place. (Sgt. 1st Class Jon Soucy | 29th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment)

“It’s important that we know that we can react for real when (indirect fire, or IDF) really does come in, and we take casualties,” said Lt. Col. Stephen Innanen, deputy surgeon, 25th Infantry Division. “This is to practice and to exercise our standard operating procedures and response to IDF.”

Soldiers, military police, fire and emergency services, explosive ordnance technicians, medical and force protection personnel worked together on the scene to react as they would during a real-world situation.

“We just thought it would be one of those accountability exercises,” said Spc. Kelly Johnson, information technology specialist, Headquarters Support Company, Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, 25th ID. “We didn’t know what was going on until a medic told us there was wounded.”

Some of the scenario was designed using lessons learned from past training, but also from real IDF incidents, which can include rockets and mortars.

“In the last three months, … we’ve had multiple real-world incidences, and we pull the group together and do (after-action reviews) after each one of those,” said Innanen.

As IDF remains an ongoing threat to U.S. bases in Iraq, training like this is critical to readiness. Soldiers are challenged to think on their feet and be ready to react quickly to these types of incidents.

“Allow your Soldiers to come out and perform as they would in a real situation,” said Sgt. Maj. Robert Rembert, Surgeon’s Office, 25th ID. “Don’t announce it, because when you announce it, it doesn’t prepare the Soldier.”

Soldiers had to go with what they already knew, with no time for preparation.

“It was still a little bit hard seeing someone on the ground right there and trying to figure out what to do to help them out,” Johnson said.

During a real mass casualty event, combat-lifesaver-certified Soldiers could be called upon to perform any number of functions on the spot to keep the process moving.

“It’s … to train up for whatever happens,” said Master Sgt. Gene Houston, civil affairs noncommissioned officer, Operations Co., HHBN, 25th ID. “(Now) everybody knows how to do the bandages (and) how to treat sucking chest wounds, abdominal injuries (and) bleeding. So when it does happen (in real life), it won’t be the first time.”

The success of this exercise is more about value-added training than perfection.

“Everything is a learning tool here,” Rembert said. “There is no mistake. Yeah, we look at things and say ‘right and wrong.’ But, no, there’s no right and wrong. This is a big learning curve for everyone out here, so that’s why it will be a success.”

Tags: ,

Category: Deployed Forces, Exercises, News

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *