CAMP WILLIAMS, Utah – Service members with the Utah National Guard’s Region VIII Homeland Response Force displayed efficiency and effectiveness during a readiness validation exercise Aug. 3-7.
During the exercise, they demonstrated the ability to deploy rapidly, convoy to an incident site, set up, and conduct individual and collective tasks over 36 hours. Tasks included search and extraction, decontamination, medical triage, stabilization, and fatality search and recovery.
The HRF mission involves identifying, training, and maintaining a deployable force of 500-plus service members ready to respond within the continental United States if a catastrophic chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, or all-hazard event is to mitigate suffering and loss of life. Every three years, the HRF must pass an evaluation to certify that the teams are mission ready.
“We have partnerships with our local agencies that provide safety and lifesaving measures to civilians,” said Lt. Col. Erick Wiedmeier, Utah’s Region VIII HRF commander. “We provide a high level of chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear expertise and response not found in other organizations.”
Instructing HRF Soldiers at the new Collapsed Structure Venue Site, Shawn Murphy with Utah Task Force 1 spoke about the importance of the evaluation.
“It’s fun being on the same page with people that are outside of our immediate organization,” said Murphy. “Hopefully, we never need to use these skills, right? But in a teaching environment, it’s important to be able to speak the same language.”
“The National Guard has capabilities that we simply don’t have, and that’s important to us so that we all work together and can complete the mission,” Murphy said.