By Sgt. William Taylor
314th Theater Public Affairs Support Element
Like scenes from a modern horror movie, two U.S. Army Reserve Soldiers drive through rubble and smoke on April 21, 2021, to reveal a community that has been devastated by a nuclear blast. They are the first two Soldiers on the scene and are swarmed by citizens in need of medical assistance.
Thankfully, this scenario is just a training exercise, but it is also an extremely important one. For Soldiers from the 307th Chemical Company out of Bell, California, Exercise Guardian Response 21, based at the Muscatatuck Urban Training Center in central Indiana, is invaluable.
Guardian Response 21 is a homeland emergency response exercise commanded by the 78th Training Division that provides realistic disaster response training to sharpen the skills and increase the capabilities of U.S. Army Reserve Soldiers along with other state and federal assets.
U.S. Army Reserve Cpl. Nico Falke and Spc. Mark Mikhail, chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear specialists of the 307th Chemical Company, were the first two Soldiers to complete the reconnaissance portion of a situational training lane dealing with the after-effects of a nuclear blast on a mobile home community.
"Today we received valuable training for an incident in when a mass causality event took place," said Falke. "We were able to familiarize ourselves with this type of situation and build more confidence and experience."
The Soldiers were tasked with the CBRN reconnaissance portion of the mission. The CBRN reconnaissance mission features complete site characterization, initial entry area assessment, and the recon members are prepared to enter areas as emergency rescue teams.
"The Recon side goes in and does site characterization, both exterior and interior, to review what we are dealing with,” said Mikhail. “After that we identify the hazards, and we report back to the incident commander on how to proceed."
Once Falke and Mikhail marked the area as containing specific measurements of radiation and relayed information back to the command team off-site, they were able to assess the casualties in the area and bring people to safety.
"In any incident, people are the priority," said Mikhail. "This type of training make us better at our jobs, because we learn how to assess every situation and get better through repetition."