Michigan Army National Guard trains for large nuclear disaster with Exercise Vibrant Response

BUTLERVILLE, Ind.-- Soldiers with the Michigan Army National Guard joined hundreds of others from around the country in Southeast Indiana on Friday as part of 'Exercise Vibrant Response'. The mission simulates the actions that would follow a large nuclear disaster somewhere in the United States.

The 46th Military Police Command from Lansing joined hundreds of other soldiers at the Muscatatuck Urban Training Center and Camp Atterbury in Indiana to train for a day they hope will never come. It's this training that prepares them for what they refer to as 'America's worst day'.

"The scenario is a 20-kiloton nuclear device goes off in a suburb of Seattle," said Major General Mike Stone, Commanding General for the 46th Military Police Command.

That's the scenario Major General Mike Stone is overseeing. The exercise pinpoints response for disaster.

"We're estimating in the neighborhood of 50,000 injured people that will need medical care," said Major Aaron Proffitt, command surgeon for the exercise. "That's from all different types of injuries: blast injuries, radiation, thermal burns. In our scenario our estimate for hospital beds is about 6,000 in the local area. So 50,000 injuries and 6,000 hospital beds kind of paints a pretty dire picture."

That number is one of the biggest challenges according to Major Proffitt. The death toll of such a catastrophe is estimated at 20,000 people. That's out of 800,000 people immediately effected.

"We have medical logistics, aviation, transportation," said Proffitt. "We have those resources and we want to use them as best we can to support the local incident commander and the bigger effort on the ground."

"We're trying to plug into the existing systems to find out how many providers are able to provide services there and then supplement it with resources that we have," said Colonel Chris McKinney, operations officer for the exercise.

Soldiers worked at Camp Atterbury handling most of the logistics of the operation, while at Muscatatuck, they walked through a makeshift city searching for survivors.

"They will be doing this in a Hazmat CBRN-type environment, which means they will be wearing protective masks and suits," said Timmy Stampley, USAR Evaluation Analyst.

Timmy Stampley observes part of the exercise and corrects the soldiers as necessary.

"We try to keep hands off and let them execute it as though they would as we were invisible," said Stampley. "We try to be on the backside as much as possible and stay out of the way. The only time we will come into play is if they're doing something unsafe to harm themselves."

The training is as realistic as they can make it, with unexpected bumps in the road.

"We make sure that we are fully trained and ready to go and we do that by training as we fight," said Major Audrey Jo Dean, Task Force 46 CBRN Cell OIC.

"We've got specific mission sets that we're designed to do," said Major General Stone. "We train to do it for what I call America's worst day."

The men and women have been participating in the exercise for six day and will be there for a few more days before the training operation is complete.

 

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