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NEWS | Oct. 17, 2019

Disaster relief exercise tests German, American first responders

By Sgt. Christopher Stelter and Spc. Daisy Zimmer 221st Public Affairs Detachment

Should disaster strike in Europe, U.S. Army Reserve Soldiers and their German counterparts are better prepared to render aid due to ongoing training hosted by Company C, 457th Civil Affairs Battalion.

Charlie Company Soldiers joined by Bundeswehr, Technisches Hilfswerk (THW), and the American Red Cross, partnered for Cobra Strike 19, a recurring field training exercise in humanitarian assistance. The daylong event took place Sept. 14 at a mock village outside of Mainz.

The scenario was a severe earthquake with structural damage to the village, said Spc. Christopher Wise, a civil affairs specialist.

“The normal infrastructure was completely down and therefore our team came in to do our quick assessment,” Wise said. “The Bundeswehr came out and they’re getting assessed on what they do on their medical side.”

Together, U.S. and German Soldiers hoisted casualties from the debris, evacuated them to a medical treatment area and rendered first aid. Meanwhile, cadets with the Civil Air Patrol created a simulated chaotic environment by running through the streets and harassing the first responders.

“It’s a great exercise to step forward and learn,” said Sascha Hellmann, heavy equipment rescue team group leader, THW Mainz.

Putting learning into practice is why these exercises are important, Hellmann added.

To rescue trapped victims, THW brought heavy rescue equipment to include a concrete chainsaw, cranes and ladder systems.

This training was an opportunity for the Bundeswehr and THW to prove their readiness to respond to a real-world crisis, Wise said.

“We built this partnership with all three entities,” he said. “We are able to truly get that real training.”