MADISON, Wis. – Airmen and Soldiers of the Wisconsin Chemical Biological Radiological Nuclear Enhanced Response Force Package practiced crisis response procedures with civilian and military partners May 14.
The Wisconsin National Guard CERF-P partnered with the 104th Aviation Unit out of Madison and Southern Waukesha County Canine Search and Rescue and ThedaStar Air Medical services from Neenah. The participants trained for crisis scenarios where the Guard would need to work directly with civilian entities.
Master Sgt. Nathan Sullivan, a medical observer-controller-trainer for the 115th FW and liaison for the Wisconsin CERF-P, facilitated the exercise and integrated the medical element with Army aviation, ThedaStar, and the canine search and rescue team.
Participants conducted the exercise at the Fox Valley Technical College Public Safety Training Center in Appleton.
“Today is really unique because our medical element is getting to transport patients out of their tents via helicopter and actually practice the movement of patients in and out of our treatment facility,” said Sullivan. “Our search and extraction teams are downrange getting to hoist people out of trapped areas onto the helicopters in conjunction with that. So we get to practice a little bit more real-world than we otherwise would have.”
Sullivan stressed the importance of providing training for Guard members and civilian partners they would likely need to collaborate with if a natural disaster or other crisis were to occur.
“It’s a really great opportunity to work with civilian partners,” said Sullivan, “Something that we found out more during the pandemic is that we don’t work alone when it comes to real life. When the real chaos happens, this training will make it less chaotic.”
During the exercise, Guardsmen were trained and tested on their ability to perform medical tasks like setting up a medical field site, treating casualties, and loading casualties onto Black Hawk and civilian medical helicopters. Guardsmen also took part in search and rescue, extracting casualties from elevator shafts, hoisting casualties from roofs and working with civilian K-9 search and rescue handlers to locate casualties.
Phil Buchholz, search and rescue chief and owner of Southern Waukesha County Canine Search and Rescue, said it was important for Guard members to work with K-9 units to find casualties and better assist casualties with disabilities. Buchholz has multiple autistic family members and understands how overwhelming a seemingly normal situation can be for them, let alone a crisis or natural disaster.
“Some may freeze up and some can become violent because they don’t feel safe,” said Buchholtz. “That’s where the dogs come in handy. They give people that comfort and that safety. When we take a look at search and rescue environment and someone is not doing well with loud noises or overstimulating environment, the dogs will pick up on that.”
Sullivan also emphasized the importance of Guard members training to work alongside a range of civilian entities in a crisis and work with and assist a range of casualties.
“It’s incredibly important for us to cater to our entire population,” said Sullivan. “Whether that be children, the elderly, or people who are disabled mentally or physically.”