Explosion exercise preps National Guardsmen, soldiers

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The Alabama National Guard turned out in force Friday at the USS Alabama Battleship Memorial park. But it was not your normal training. Hundreds of National Guardsmen performed a casualty training exercise.

Picture this scenario: a fundraiser breakfast on the USS Alabama. Dignitaries including the Governor, both Senators, Congressman, and more are on board along with guests. To commemorate the celebration, a blank is to be fired from one of the 16” turrets. However, in preparation of the firing, an explosion occurs below deck in the magazine powder room, injuring many…some even beyond help.

Sounds like a new action movie in the Port City, right? Think again. It’s as close to the real thing as it gets and it is all for training purposes.

“Our search and rescue teams are operating in joint with the local and civil authorities to search and rescue and find those individuals, bring them out triage, then categorize them based off of their injuries, put them off through the decon line, and then deem them safe to travel. After that we would transport them over to a local hospital for treatment,” said Lt. Col. Brian Naugher. He is the Deputy Brigade Commander for the 31st Brigade based in Tuscaloosa.

“It is paramount to us and our readiness and being able to do our mission day in and day out great. But the great thing about it is we are working hand-in-hand with the fire departments and the search and rescue teams in the state of Alabama. It allows us to build those relationships to ensure success whenever we are called upon,” said Lt. Col. Naugher.

FOX10 News got an exclusive look inside the operation as victims played their individual roles awaiting rescue. Specialist Brandon Thompson played a 32-year-old who had a leg fracture and a back injury.

“It prepares us better for real world events that may happen. Worst-case scenarios. So that we are prepared to to help civilians as well as our own,” said Thompson.

“If anybody gets in these types of situations when we do our recovery, it helps to know what we’re supposed to do, how are supposed to do it and the manner were supposed to do it in,” said Specialist Melvin Bell.

Rescue crews helped victims off the ship onto the gangplank. However, one scenario was lowering victims overboard by what is known as a high-line maneuver.

Alabama Task Force One with the Mobile Fire-Rescue Department played a part in the exercise. Another agency involved, the Mobile County Emergency Management Association.

“Fast forward to an event like this where we had some type of a terrorist or a nuclear, biological-chemical event then obviously we would need a lot of support in Mobile County to take care of our citizens. We don’t have all of that expertise within Mobile County so we would have to reach back to the state of Alabama and ask for assistance to come in the way of the National Guard what is military assets that we see here behind us today,” said Mike Evans, Deputy Director of Mobile County EMA.

This allows us to go in our skills and make sure that we are if we are ever called upon that we are ready to react and save lives of Alabamians in their time of need,” said Lt. Col. Naugher.

In the need of an emergency:

The Alabama National Guard trained with the Mobile Fire-Rescue Department, as well as other local agencies throughout the week in preparation for Friday’s exercise. Joining the Alabama National Guard on Friday was the Tennessee National Guard.

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