|Fort McCoy conducted an emergency response exercise
Jan. 26 to test and observe garrison staff reactions to various
incidents across the installation.
The exercise, Vigilant Triad 2012, fulfilled the Installation Management
Command (IMCOM) annual requirement to conduct a full- scale exercise to
refine and improve emergency responses to natural and man-made
incidents. Disasters such as the Fort Hood shooting, the large tornado
at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., the ice storm at Fort Knox, Ky., and the
flooding of military facilities along the Mississippi and Missouri
rivers in 2011 continue to make emergency-response actions important to
the Department of Defense.
Members of the Fort McCoy
Directorate of Emergency Services Fire and Police Departments
and other emergency support personnel evacuate and provide
comfort and care to victims of a simulated building collapse
during the Vigilant Triad 2012 exercise at Fort McCoy.
(Photo by Allan Harding)
The purpose of the exercise was to exercise and validate Phase I
(preparation) and Phase II (response) of the Installation Emergency
Management Plan. The exercise also tested and validated all
communication systems at directorate- and tenant-activity levels and
integrated communications into incident-response and recovery
operations. Various scenarios conducted across the cantonment area
tested the installation’s capabilities and allowed evaluators to
Brad Stewart, Fort McCoy director of Plans, Training, Mobilization and
Security, said the scenarios were based on the commander’s training
“From the exercise we have learned the personnel working at Fort McCoy
are very good at what they do in support of emergencies,” Stewart said.
“The primary lesson we brought out of the exercise is to concentrate on
how we present and share information among the garrison directorates and
the tenant units and activities we support, and our ability to track
execution of tasks within the Installation Emergency Operations Center (IEOC).”
Installation personnel and residents were subjected to real-time changes
to traffic patterns and other delays because of exercise events, which
included traffic accidents, downed trees and power lines, a simulated
collapsed building and the evacuation of a recreation area. Fort McCoy
personnel also were integrated into the exercise by updating their
personnel accountability information in the Army Disaster Personnel
Accountability and Assessment System to ensure their emergency contact
information was available to installation officials.
Fort McCoy firefighters/emergency
medical technicians Luke Erickson (with the axe) and Brady
Brever clear debris from the stairwell during a structural
collapse scenario in an effort to locate survivors during the
Vigilant Triad exercise..
(Photo by Allan Harding)
Ted Richmond, assistant fire chief, and Adam Ballard, deputy fire
chief for the Fort McCoy Fire Department, said the scenarios allowed
fire department personnel to test and evaluate their capabilities and
communications between the scene and the IEOC.
“The exercise gives us a chance to use our resources and to prepare for
emergency responses,” Richmond said. “If you don’t practice it, you
won’t be ready to do it when you need to do it.”
Ballard said incidents of this magnitude quickly would overwhelm fire
The fire department exercised the department’s existing mutual aid
agreements. The department simulated calling for the resources that they
would need for this type of emergency response. Personnel had to factor
in the time it would take for the resources to get to Fort McCoy and
learn how to best use personnel and equipment assets as they became
“We will do the best we can until the resources get here,” Richmond
said. “The first thing we would do is save lives. The second is to
preserve and conserve property and then we would protect the
A road barrier is placed by
Directorate of Public Works personnel at a Fort McCoy
intersection to block off access to an incident during the
Vigilant Triad exercise.
(Photo by Rob Schuette)
Ballard said the exercise was the first time that the department used
its new mobile command unit (MCU), which allows for onsite command and
control. The MCU is equipped with all the communication and command
equipment needed for incidents such as the one exercised. The exercise
also allowed the department to evaluate, validate and improve its
“We learned about things we could fix and things we can do to make our
operations better for the future,” Ballard said. “It’s also a good time
to introduce the newer people we have to the (emergency) process and
what they would do in emergencies, such as a structural collapse.”
Liane Haun, Chief, Master Planning Division, Directorate of Public Works
(DPW), said the DPW had seven objectives, which included exercising the
DPW Help Line and testing a number of emergency action plans and
emergency response times.
One of the scenarios was to evacuate the Pine View Campground near Squaw
Lake by exercising the emergency action plan for the Squaw Lake dam.
Another was to evaluate the DPW Roads and Grounds response time to enact
a barrier plan.
“The call roster (for evacuating the Squaw Lake dam) went as planned and
we were able to successfully evacuate the campground during this
exercise, allowing us the ability to understand how we would function if
the need to evacuate the campground (occurred) in the future,” she said.
Cadets from the Challenge Academy
at Fort McCoy portray victims of a weather incident at the Pine
View Campground area that necessitated their evacuation to the
Family Assistance Center at the Army Community Service Center.
Police Officer Thomas Brennan checks them for signs or symptoms
of hypothermia. (Photo by
Stewart said Rock Island Arsenal, Ill.; Detroit Arsenal; Fort Carson,
Colo.; and Fort Riley, Kan., provided personnel to observe and evaluate
“The team provided us valuable feedback from their objective assessments
of our operations that we can use in the future to improve our response
to emergencies,” Stewart said. “We also can establish partnerships with
each other and exchange information to help us continue to improve our
Members of the Fort McCoy community should feel confident the
installation has plans, procedures and well-trained personnel ready to
respond to emergencies, Stewart said. All installation communication
methods will be used to keep personnel informed, including e-mail, Fort
McCoy’s command channel (TV-6), directorate and tenant liaisons and
runners from the IEOC if necessary. Stewart said this also would include
using technology, such as BlackBerrys, cell phones, smart phones, etc.,
as a force multiplier.
Personnel in the Fort McCoy community can help prepare themselves and,
subsequently the installation, for future emergencies by taking heed of
the Ready Army program, Stewart said.
This includes documenting current emergency contact information and
assembling a Ready Army emergency kit.
Ready Army information can be found online on the Fort McCoy Corporate
Network or in print at the Army Community Service Center (building
2111), the Rumpel Fitness Center (building 1122), the Community Activity
Center (building 2000), and building 102.
Ready Army or emergency information also is available at the websites
(which includes Facebook and Twitter links/connections.)
For more information about the Ready Army program, call Quentin Graham