Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Homeland Response Force - FEMA Region 1

FEMA Region 1 HRF Mission
To provide FEMA Region 1 with a rapid military response force trained and equipped to deploy within 6-12 hours of alert, providing brigade and battalion level mission command structures for synchronization of all state active duty and Title 32 forces in order to provide timely life saving skills within the first 72 hours of a large scale chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear incident.

I had the pleasure to visit the Massachusetts Military Reservation this morning to observe the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Region 1 Homeland Response Force (HRF) executing a large scale training and certification mission. It is expected that, by the end of this week, the HRF will receive its certification and join nine other HRFs across the country to complete the network of quick response forces.

Army and Air National Guard troops from all six New England states and personnel from other agencies were participating in this effort. Major General L. Scott Rice, Adjutant General (Acting), of the Massachusetts National Guard helped the civilians and elected officials observe the many hotbeds of activity, sorting out in layman's terms what was happening. Many others provided briefs on their areas of command, which ranged from the Unified Area Command to the Triage Area at the incident site.

Also joining the event was Robert Salesses, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense, from Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta's office and a number of Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency personnel and directors.

The exercise today was based on a vehicle driving to the corner of Fenway Park and the operator detonating an onboard explosive during a Red Sox / Rangers game. In the scenario, part of the debris strikes a tanker truck on I-90 carrying a chemical which is released and blows across the baseball park. Simultaneously, a second vehicle explodes outside of the TD Garden during a Cirque Du Soleil show.

The photos below are of a disaster site mock up, the triage area, and decontamination area. Actors playing the parts of the injured and their family members did a great job of adding true-to-life hysteria into the exercise, which is something that the responders must be prepared for in an actual disaster.

(Click on any photo to see a higher resolution version)
Disaster site with building and two rubble piles
Building with five entry points for first responder training
Rubble pile (an appropriate spot for a Dodge Stratus)
Triage area
Contaminated people waiting to leave the "hot zone"
Non-ambulatory decontamination area
Responder decontamination area

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