Exercise, exercise, exercise: Mass casualty drill tests
FORT LEONARD WOOD-–An aircraft crashes and a bus overturns at the same time.
This could be considered a worst case scenario for disaster preparedness, but that's exactly the problem the installation faced during the annual full-scale exercise March 8.
While the disaster was staged, the actions of the first responders were not. The annual exercises are designed to test and challenge the installation's response teams.
From the military police and firefighters to the crisis action team to the recovery operations, every aspect of the exercise is there for a reason, said Lisa Stewart, U.S. Army Garrison Fort Leonard Wood chief of plans and operations.
This scenario, with multiple agencies involved and numerous simulated casualties, tested how well various offices and departments could work together in a fast-paced, stressful environment.
The Missouri Army National Guard provided the helicopter, which was portrayed as striking an object immediately after take-off, Stewart said.
Exercise organizers also staged a bus, which was part of a scenario where it rolled over when the driver panicked seeing the helicopter crash. Several of the Soldiers were put inside the bus, the helicopter and in the field near the end of the Forney Field runway, Stewart said.
Preparation of the more than 30 simulated casualties began early in the morning as a team from the General Leonard Wood Army Community Hospital applied make up to reflect broken bones, open wounds, bruises and burns, Stewart said.
Applying the artificial wound to a victim takes approximately 10 to 15 minutes per person, said Starla Brookshire, Medical Activity Command.
"We have a team here today, and we will moulage between 35 and 40 Soldiers this morning," Brookshire said.
Moulage is the art of applying makeup to create the image of wounds. It is designed to assist first responders in treating and triaging patients in training situations.
There were more than 20 military police involved with response to the accidents, said Capt. David Spiker, Directorate of Emergency Services. This number includes the Fort Leonard Wood game wardens, Department of Army civilian police and Army military police personnel.
"Additionally, 15 to 20 firefighters participated in the exercise and played a crucial role. The firefighters involved included Fort Leonard Wood, Waynesville and St. Robert crews that responded as part of the training," Spiker said.
"The first MP was on the scene within minutes after the initial call. From there, the MP desk dispatched all available patrols and redirected them to the scene. Training executed was realistic and served the purpose of what would actually happen in a real-world accident," Spiker said.
"It is exercises, such as this one, that help maintain our installation readiness should an actual disaster occur," Stewart said. "It may be just practice, but you don't want to find out what you can or can't do when a real disaster strikes."