Utah ANG trains for disaster response at Vigilant Guard 2014

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  • By Staff Sgt. Annie Edwards
  • 151 ARW/PA
The Utah Air National Guard participated in Vigilant Guard Utah 2014, a multiagency disaster preparedness exercise, held November 3-6, in several locations in Utah ranging from Layton to Nephi.
The training exercise, which involved members of the Army and Air National Guard, state and federal civilian agencies, and non-governmental organizations, provided participants with the opportunity to improve cooperation and relationships in preparation to respond to emergencies and catastrophic events.
"Once a disaster happens manpower is going to be a critical need. In order for civilian authorities to respond to a natural disaster the military may be called in to assist with that response," said Lt. Col. Walter Townson, a flight surgeon with the 151st Air Refueling Wing.
Townson said this exercise benefits the community as a whole by giving the military and civilian personnel the opportunity to coordinate their responses prior to an actual event.
"The assets are in place to respond to an emergency, but before the real event occurs we need to work out the bugs in order to respond to that event and that is what this is for," said Townson.
The training exercise was based on the possible occurrence of two earthquakes along the Wasatch Fault resulting in a complex, area-wide catastrophe centered in Salt Lake County. The training scenario included response to the collapse of multiple structures, simulated mass casualties, search and extraction training, providing medical treatment, and evacuation by vehicle and helicopter.  Responders also dealt with chemical decontamination, train derailment and civil disturbance.
Lt. Col. Brian Jacketta, commander of 1st Battalion 145th Field Artillery and the Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear (CBRN) Enhanced Response Force Package (CERFP) element, said the exercise provided a great opportunity for the Army National Guard to train with their Air National Guard counterparts as well as Unified Fire Authority and other civilian agencies.
"When the time comes that we need to respond to an incident, this will pay big dividends for us; it's going to prepare us to be in that environment," said Jacketta.
During one Vigilant Guard training scenario The CERFP responded to mass casualties and chemical contamination at a simulated collapsed structure site in Magna, Utah.
Maj. Todd Bingham, chief nurse of the CERFP with the 151st Air Refueling Wing Medical Group, said the medical element initially made sure the exercise participants were safe and prepared to get into their protective suits by getting a full set of vital signs to ensure they were fit. They also set up tents to receive mock casualties and provide triage for the injured.
"This not only helps us, but all the states in (FEMA) Region 8 that we participate with. If there is a natural disaster the Governors of the states can feel confident that we can respond and help with any type of natural disaster," said Bingham.
Additionally, Bingham said this benefits the community in general by letting the people of the state know that "if there is a natural disaster they can depend on us to show up."
Jamie Quinlande, a nurse manager with the University Hospital Emergency Department, worked to receive mock casualties during the triage process as they arrived at the University Medical Center.
"Doing the run-throughs allows us to figure out what's working and what's not working and then we can go through and fix the things that need we need to tweak and go from there," said Quinlande.
Additionally, Quinlande said it was exciting to work with the military, something she rarely gets to do.
"We get to see things from their perspective and how they operate in the field and they see how we operate in a more controlled setting, and we can merge the two and find some way to operate in a disaster setting," said Quinlande.
Sgt. 1st Class Brian Fitzpatrick, a combat medic and licensed practical nurse with the 328th Combat Support Hospital said working in a joint environment with different branches of the military as well as civilians was very beneficial.
"It actually gets us on the same sheet of music, so to speak, as far as being able to provide better patient care in a more efficient manner," said Fitzpatrick.
Chuck Cruz, deputy commander of the Utah Disaster Medical Assistance Team, said the training with military members and civilians was helpful in preparing for an actual emergency.
"When the actual event occurs it won't be the first time we've worked together; we won't be meeting each other for the first time and we'll be comfortable with each other's skill sets," said Cruz.