CAMP EDWARDS, Mass. -- More than 300 Soldiers and Airmen participated in Operation Patriot Guard, an exercise in disaster response and crisis management here Nov. 6.
Patriot Guard incorporated many organizations, including the Massachusetts Task Force, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency.
Volunteers were also used during the exercise.
“There were well over 90 role players from various National Guard and civilian organizations present,” said Sgt. 1st Class William Murphy the readiness noncommissioned officer for the 79th Troop Command.
Acting as their commander, Murphy informed the role players of the importance of their part in the operation.
“I explained to all of them, working with MEMA and FEMA, it is so important to work as a team,” he said. “You’re going to need everyone to work together when the time comes.”
Some role players were drilling members of the Massachusetts National Guard whose units were aiding in other aspects of the training as well.
“The unit is focusing on support,” said Spc. Alex Machado of 2nd Platoon, 772nd Military Police. “Our unit has done things like this before. Pretty much the entire company was called up for Hurricane Earl.”
As seen on Sept. 11, 2001 and in the more recent earthquake in Haiti, some catastrophes have so much devastation that the only way to find survivors buried in rubble piles is with specially trained dogs.
“The people could be trapped 20 to 30 feet down, but eventually the scent will rise,” said John Talin, a member of the Massachusetts Task Force and a Hyannis, Mass., Firefighter.
Talin’s dog PeeWee, a Malinwa, is a trained rescue dog. “The dogs are trained to alert on live human scent,” he said “Their alert is a bark. These aren’t cadaver dogs they find people who are alive.”
Once found, the 272nd Chemical Company took the victims through a series of tents from decontamination to triage where wounds are treated and then moved immediately to a transport station and off to a hospital.
Making sure citizens know where to go for aid and information is also paramount to effectively maintaining public safety.
“In reality we’ll need a Joint Visitors Bureau, where in the event of a hurricane people could go for information,” said Col. Richard Crivello the commander of Camp Edwards.
“It doesn’t just happen, you need to make it happen, you have to work together,” he said.
Brig. Gen. Thomas J. Sellars, land component commander for the Massachusetts Army National Guard was the proponent for this exercise.
“It is about getting face to face with people,” he said. “It can be difficult to jam everyone together. An exercise like this, it brings all the pieces together.”
Operation Patriot Guard is one of many past and future readiness-training events.
“We try to do this level of exercise twice a year,” Sellers said. “We do them all over the state, so the communities see and appreciate us. So they see we are ready.
“You have to work aggressively on your inter-organization relations. When you work with your partners outside of the military it brings in a new level of complexity,” he said. “Exercises like this will get us there.”