Sgt. Terence Ewings
24th Press Camp Headquarters
Responding to a simulated 10-kiloton nuclear detonation, soldiers from the 178th Engineer Company, Fort Polk, La., conducted a rescue mission during Vibrant Response 13, a major incident exercise conducted by U.S. Northern Command and led by U.S. Army North.
The engineers worked with other Joint Task Force – Civil Support, or JTF-CS, units to demonstrate their ability to support local, state and federal authorities in the event of a natural or man-made disaster.
"The 178th Engineer Company is very proficient at what we do, and in the event something like this were to ever happen, I am confident that we can perform this mission successfully," 2nd Lt. Michelle Griffin, 2nd Platoon Leader, 178th Engineer Company, said.
Griffin and her troops were responsible for evacuating nearby survivors and bracing the building so it could safely be searched for survivors.
In the event a real-life scenario were to occur, JTF-CS units are responsible for supporting the civilian authorities who are in the lead to conduct lifesaving and life-sustaining missions, provide logistics support to a theater of operations and perform technical chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear, known as CBRN, consequence management tasks and civil support plans.
"Participating in this Vibrant Response exercise is just giving us more experience and tools to add to our skill-sets," Griffin, a native of Tampa, Fla., said.
Adding, "At the end of the day and throughout this mission, we’re supporting our neighbors, friends, families and the people in country who need us."
In addition to providing medical care to the survivors during the training venue, the 178th troops coordinated with a nearby chemical company to decontaminate the survivors after being rescued.
Once all the displaced citizens were evacuated from the scene, the engineers secured the collapsed parking garage with bracing materials so they could further search the area for survivors in need of aid.
"It feels good knowing there are people out there who need our help, and we’re capable of providing that help for them," Spc. Kyle Lowmack, a combat engineer assigned to the unit, said.
Lowmack, one of the first responders on the scene, believes this type of training is important in ensuring unit readiness.
"Being able to execute our jobs and knowing we can help people in their time of need is a humbling feeling; it’s what we train for," Lowmack, a native of Sterling, Neb., said.