Fort Riley & Area Agencies To Test Response To Catastrophes

By: Fort Riley Press Release
By: Fort Riley Press Release

FORT RILEY, Kan. -- The 1st Infantry Division and Fort Riley will conduct a Full-Scale Protection Exercise June 26 to 28 to put all of the installation's protection systems to the ultimate test as about 400 people participate in a simulation of several catastrophes on post.

All of the installation's emergency management processes and systems will react as a mock helicopter crash, wildfire and tornado will strike Fort Riley and the regional area - wreaking havoc and injury.

Facilitated by the Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security, the exercise will allow the garrison to apply lessons learned in two previous Spring and Summer Severe Weather Table Top Exercises and see just how well the installation would fare if the worst-case scenario became a reality.

Fort Riley has been prepping for this exercise throughout the year by testing early warning systems, planning emergency shelter areas for displaced Soldiers and Families, refining severe weather battle drills and standard operating procedures with every directorate on post, exercising primary and secondary command and control nodes, assembling the Crisis Action Team and setting up an Emergency Operations Center.

The intention of these exercises is to synchronize the 1st Inf. Div., Mission Support Element, U.S. Army Garrison, units and community partner actions in response to severe weather, from the moment the Detachment 2, 3rd Weather Squadron issues a warning, through the storm and into recovery actions.

Now that all agencies, directorates and partners understand their duties and responsibilities and can perform them under emergency conditions, the exercise will put them to the ultimate test when 50 volunteer role players will do their best to act the role of traumatized and injured people seeking help.

The role players will coordinate with more than 180 "Big Red One" Soldiers and 19 off-post partners such as Life Star, Stormont Vail Hospital, the American Red Cross, Geary County Community Hospital and emergency management departments in surrounding counties to ensure that every step in the process is exactly as it would be in a real-life scenario.

According to Steve Crusinberry, chief, Operations and Plans Division, DPTMS, participants will use real equipment to simulate several emergencies, and volunteers will be dressed and made-up to depict a realistic view of a mass casualty.

The situation will be more than a battle drill or a discussion of what the post would do. casualties will be treated and transported to Irwin Army Community Hospital and surrounding area hospitals; displaced Families will flood into the Family Assistance Center requesting food, shelter and help; a press conferences will take place in the Press Information Center; and the Incident Command Post and Casualty Assistance Center will be fully stood-up to provide support as well.

Crusinberry said the exercise will allow the installation to exercise, test and evaluate itself.

"At the end of the day, we will grade ourselves, determine what we're doing right and wrong, and fix any issues - so if the real deal does occur, we're not starting from scratch," he said.

Making sure Soldiers and Families will have the support they need during a crisis and returning the installation to functionality is the ultimate goal, he said.

"We want the installation to recover as quickly as possible and return to normal operations with as little impact to Soldiers, Families, civilians and our regional partners as possible," Crusinberry said.

Fort Riley residents are asked to be aware of the exercise, but there is no reason for alarm, Crusinberry said.

Large signs will be placed around post in advance to alert the public, and garrison officials requests residents not stop to sight see or flood the phone bank with calls when the exercise is underway.

The good news, Crusinberry said, is that while this exercise is a massive effort, it is a very efficient one. Because the exercise will be conducted during duty hours with no overtime or outside contract support, the cost will be truly minimal, he said.


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