Fort McCoy News April 14, 2017

24-hour Vigilant Triad exercise practices

installation's emergency-response capabilities

BY SCOTT T. STURKOL
Public Affairs Staff

Fort McCoy garrison and tenant organizations tested eight major training objectives during a simulated tornado touchdown at the installation during the 24-hour Vigilant Triad 2017 exercise held March 21-22.

Vigilant Triad completes the Installation Management Command annual requirement to conduct a full-scale exercise to refine and improve Fort McCoy's response to a local or regional all-hazards crisis. Such exercises are part of a continuing effort by the Department of Defense to refine and improve emergency response to natural and man-made disasters.

The Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security (DPTMS) served as the lead Fort McCoy agency for the exercise. The exercise scenario began March 20 with installation emergency-response and emergency-management personnel monitoring a thunderstorm and tornado watch for the Fort McCoy area.

Emergency responders with the Directorate of Emergency Services Fire Department treat simulated injured personnel March 21 during operations for the 2017 Vigilant Triad exercise at Fort  McCoy.
Emergency responders with the Directorate of Emergency Services
Fire Department treat simulated injured personnel March 21 during
operations for the 2017 Vigilant Triad exercise at Fort McCoy.
Photo
by Jamal Wilson

By early March 21, the scenario progressed to a severe thunderstorm going over the post with DPTMS Range Riders observing a funnel cloud southwest of the installation cantonment area followed by the Installation Emergency Operations Center (IEOC) activating a tornado siren at 8:25 a.m.

The scenario was that between 8:25 and 8:50 a.m. a tornado touched down on the cantonment area somewhere between the 1100 and 1200 blocks with multiple reports of damage, power outages, and casualties. Immediately after the "all clear" was given, Garrison Commander Col. David J. Pinter Sr. directed a level-four activation of the IEOC requiring all garrison and tenant organization action officers to report to the center.

Additionally, fire and emergency-response personnel with the Directorate of Emergency Services (DES) responded to building 1250, which was reported as seriously damaged in the tornado touchdown. In their response, DES personnel stabilized the building, evacuated and accounted for all personnel, and treated injuries.

Several people with the Fort McCoy workforce served as role-players during the DES response.

"We do our best with training like this to make it as real as possible," said DPTMS Director Brad Stewart. "By doing this, it allows everyone to physically go through the steps they would have to take if this was a real-world disaster response."

DES personnel also responded to a secondary incident within the scenario — a building fire at building 1860. While there, firefighter/emergency medical technicians with DES not only extinguished the fire, but also assessed and treated more victims played by installation workforce role-players. Members of the Oakdale (Wis.) Fire Department also participated in this scenario.

"We also had crew members with Xcel Energy here to participate and respond to restoring power and covering a ruptured gas line," Stewart said. "And, Gundersen's MedLink helicopter and crew were here to participate in casualty evacuations as well."
Personnel with the Directorate of Public Works participated in their own emergency response to a simulated broken water main later on in the exercise. Other scenario inputs included media representatives reporting on the incident and participating in a press conference to test the Fort McCoy Public Affairs Office, and the Directorate of Human Resources holding a personnel accountability review and executing casualty affairs notification procedures.

Plans, Operations and Security Division Chief Scott Frosch (standing) with the Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security gives an update briefing to Fort McCoy team members March 21 in the Installation Emergency Operations Center during Vigilant Triad 2017.
Plans, Operations and Security Division Chief Scott Frosch (standing)
with the Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security gives
an update briefing to Fort McCoy team members March 21 in the
Installation Emergency Operations Center during Vigilant Triad 2017
.
Photo by Jamal Wilson


Fort McCoy firefighters prepare to extinguish a simulated fire during a scenario for the exercise.
Fort McCoy firefighters prepare to extinguish a simulated fire during a
scenario for the exercise.
Photo by Jamal Wilson

Because so many organizations participated in the training, Stewart said it was successful with all eight main training objectives being achieved or exceeded. Those objectives included:

• exercising and validating phase two of the Installation Emergency Management Plan.

• exercising all communication systems at directorate, special staff office, and tenant organization and activity nodes.

• integrating tenant organizations and activities into response and recovery operations.

• exercising installation command and control.

• establishing and operating the Incident Command Post.

• establishing and operating the IEOC.

• utilizing mass warning and notification systems.

• exercising personnel accountability.

"We also accomplished an additional 14 tenant organization and staff training objectives," Stewart said. "This demonstrates that the overall exercise was a success with tenant participation, we exceeded our requirements, and stressed the garrison staff more than what may occur in a real-world incident."

The exercise also followed priorities established by the garrison commander.

The priorities included validating emergency management systems to protect the life, health, and safety of population; limit property damage; support ongoing operations; and recover from the event.

Pinter said the exercise demonstrated how well everyone who participated can work together to respond to a disaster, such as a tornado.

"Having all of the (outside) organizations as well as our tenant partners from around the installation participate in this exercise showed this was a total Fort McCoy team effort and not just a garrison effort," Pinter said. "We have a culture of value-based professionals at Fort McCoy who are always looking at continuous improvement, and this exercise was a demonstration of that effort."

For more information about Vigilant Triad and Fort McCoy emergency management, call 608-388-3120.

Fort McCoy firefighters drag a tree out of the road during a scenario for the exercise.
Fort McCoy firefighters drag a tree out of the road during a scenario for the exercise. Photo
by Jamal Wilson