Illinois National Guard participates in regional domestic response exercise Print
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Written by Sgt. Ryan L. Twist, 139th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment   
Tuesday, 16 April 2013 14:28

RANTOUL, IL (04/15/2013)(readMedia)-- Illinois National Guard (ILNG) Soldiers and Airmen searched a collapsed building, extracted victims and decontaminated mass casualties during the three-day Prairie North 2013 exercise in Rantoul, April 11 to 13.

The ILNG Chemical, Biological, Radiological/Nuclear and High Explosive Response Force Package (CERFP) team along with 15 local and state agencies conducted a full-scale exercise to better communicate and enhance their training for a potential manmade or natural disaster.

"There was a lot of hands-on training," said Pvt. Kyle Eldridge of St. Louis, a medic with the 445th Chemical Company out of Shiloh, Ill.

During the exercise, Eldridge cleaned and decontaminated the simulated casualties after they were extracted from the collapsed building.

"(The training) could potentially save a lot of lives," said Eldridge.

Sgt. 1st Class Mike Markham, a noncommissioned officer in charge for CERFP with Joint Forces Headquarters in Springfield, Ill., said he was there to support the Soldiers and Airmen when they had questions during the training scenario and to make sure everyone was safe.

Markham of Chatham said he watched over the search and rescue teams as they climbed through the demolished building looking for casualties. He said the scenario included casualties with a range of issues from simulated arm and leg injuries to fatalities.

"The training is very realistic," said Markham. "I don't think we could get a better training area. This is what they would call a dynamic pile. If you mess up you may pay for it."

With approximately 200 Soldiers and Airmen, the ILNG CERFP team helps ensure the Governor and Adjutant General have the means to mitigate risks associated with search and extraction, mass decontamination, and medical triage and stabilization to the casualties.

Capt. Scotty A. Duranceau, a clinical nurse with the 126th Medical Group at Scott Air Force Base in Belleville, Ill., said his training focused on mass casualty triage treatment. He said his group assessed all patients before sending them on to the next station for further help.

"We stage for all events so we are ready in case a real situation occurs," said Duranceau of St. Louis. "I believe it keeps us honed in on our skills, especially those life support skills."

Duranceau said Illinois is properly preparing for a disaster by conducting these mock training exercises. He said the ILNG is ready to fill any void the civilian sector may need in the event of an emergency.

"It's a great opportunity for us to put that footwork into the local population so they can see we are there and can use us," said Duranceau.

It shows Illinois citizens there is one line of force and they are all there to accomplish the same goal, "get the people the care they need and to get them better," he said.

The CERFP used this exercise as the final preparation for an upcoming external evaluation.

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