Monday, May 07, 2012

Ohio National Guard training exercise tests Guard members, local and state agencies

Soldiers of the Ohio National Guard’s Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear Enhanced Response Force Package search for role players in the role of casualties amongst wreckage during a training exercise at Camp Sherman Joint Training Center, Ohio, May 5, 2012. The training exercise included Ohio National Guard members as well as personnel from a variety of local, state and federal emergency responders. (Ohio National Guard Photo by Staff Sgt. Peter Kresge)

CHILLICOTHE, Ohio — Ross County public safety agencies and the Ohio National Guard conducted a multi-jurisdictional exercise recently at Camp Sherman Joint Training Center.

Training for participants focused on Camp Sherman's structural collapse simulator, a pile of concrete, rubble, old cars, and a school bus replicating what an explosion might do to an industrial facility. The training scenario featured emergency personnel responding to a simulated explosion at a local paper mill, with the simulator providing a realistic training experience.

Responding first to the structural collapse the Chillicothe Fire Department determined the simulated explosion that caused the collapse in the training scenario released potentially hazardous chemicals into the air.

"We were overwhelmed by the initial incident," said Jeff Creed fire chief for Chillicothe, and the incident commander at the training exercise. "We called in different support from the county and the Ohio National Guard.”
Creed said the Ohio Guard integrated easily into the incident response operations.

"We did a hand-off for some of the responsibilities but maintained (overall) control,” he said. “Our staff has been working hand in hand with theirs. It's worked out real well."

One of the key participants from the Ohio Guard was the Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear Enhanced Response Force Package (CERFP), a 186-person unit which rapidly deploys to perform search and extraction, mass patient decontamination, medical triage and patient stabilization before transportation to a local hospital or medical treatment facility.

"We understand the mission that we are here to save lives and this exercise gives us an opportunity to work with our civilian counterparts to close gaps," said Lt. Col. David Mason Jr. CERFP commander

The exercise tested multiple agencies and Ohio Guard units, teaching valuable lessons for future exercises or a real incident.

"It's been a great learning experience," said Chillicothe Fire Department Capt. Joe Minney. "It’s nice to know the resources are available for a real incident and training."