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Utah National Guard Evaluated For Emergency Preparedness

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Members of the Utah National Guard’s Homeland Response Force staged mock disasters Wednesday to practice their emergency responses. Officials from the Department of Defense were present to evaluate the unit’s performance.

The mock victims were covered in blood. Some had shrapnel stuck in their face, others had compound fractures. Out of the crowd came grunts and groans. But all that was quickly followed by laughter. The people were part of a decontamination exercise with the National Guard. Lieutenant Colonel Chris Caldwell, the incident commander, says coordinating an emergency response of this magnitude with multiple agencies poses the greatest challenge.

“Once we identify what the agent is, what the hazard is that we’re dealing with, it’s really just synchronization between all the different agencies that are going to work together,” he says.

The Guard was being evaluated Wednesday by officials of the Joint Interagency Training and Education Center at the Defense Department. The unit was evaluated on its ability to respond to emergencies that include nuclear, biological or any natural disasters. Sergeant First Class Jared Lane was part of the evaluation team.

“Making sure that the safety of the soldiers and the extraction team is paramount and then enabling them to work properly or safely to extract those victims without causing further injury to them,” Lane says.

The Homeland Response Force is expected to be able to respond to emergencies within six hours.

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