TROOPS TAKE TRAINING TO HEART
NEW YORK STATE PREPAREDNESS TRAINING CENTER, ORISKANY, N.Y. -- Under the watchful eye and mentorship of observer-trainer controllers, Soldiers, Airmen and New York Guard volunteers of the FEMA Region II Homeland Response Force conducted team training today to better prepare extraction, decontamination, medical triage, security and command elements for the unit's upcoming validation. The unit is here at the NY State Preparedness Training Center to be certified my military trainers as a response element for Chemical, Biological, Radiological or Nuclear incidents to assist local first responders within FEMA Region II, including New York, New Jersey, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
The HRF is led by the New York Army National Guard's 42nd Infantry Division Headquarters, based in Troy, N.Y. and includes more than 700 Soldiers, Airmen and New York Guard volunteers.
The training continues through this weekend.
Homeland Response Force validation training lifts off
By Spec. J. P. . Lawrence, 42nd Infantry Division Public Affairs
The Soldiers of the 1156th Engineers Company were given one simple task: move a concrete cube from Point A to Point B.
The only problem was that the concrete cube weighed two tons, and they had to move it 75 feet around obstacles while using only rollers, wood beams and pry bars.
Maybe it’s not so simple.
The Soldiers are part of 1,000 National Guard Soldiers, Airmen and New York Guard volunteers at the New York State Preparedness Center as part of Homeland Response Force validation training May 15.
The FEMA II Homeland Response Force includes members of the New Jersey, Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands National Guards. The organization supports civil authorities in response to CBRN or Hazardous Material incidents that requiring the evacuation, decontamination and medical triage of casualties.
Working together to move this block trains Soldiers rescue civilians from collapsed buildings. The HRF is a robust, specialized, rapid-response task force made up of National Guard Soldiers and Airmen to reinforce first responders in times of disaster. Moving the cube is an exercise meant to build communications skills within the Soldiers in the event they are called to save lives in the real world.
“Pretend it’s your mother under that block,” Sgt. Ivan O. Martinez, team leader of the Search and Extraction Team, says. “We gotta rescue her.”
The Soldiers dig their pry bars into the ground.
“On my command,” Martinez, a Yonkers, N.Y. resident, says, and his team inhales. “Go, go, go.”
The cube rises into the air. Soldiers place black metal cylinders in front of it and push. The cube moves down a hasty path Soldiers made out of wood beams. The cube – all two tons of it – glides on the rollers in spurts.
Watching this whole affair is Sgt. 1st Class Lee Given, a trainer with the Joint Interagency Training and Education Center.
Given recently trained another HRF team in Oregon. Components of the HRF have trained for similar missions in recent years, and aiding civil authorities, as the HRF does, is part of the National Guard's traditional role.
The team Givens watches is composed of both Soldiers and Airmen. Master Sgt. Hector Caro, a Hartford, Conn., resident and member of the 105th Medical Group, is responsible for triage with this Search and Extraction Team. “It’s good for us to get together and see how each other works,” says Caro, who would evaluate the wounded in a real-life disaster.
The team moves the two-ton cube through a narrow concrete tunnel, and Pfc. Neseer Carter, a resident of Glen Cove N.Y., breathes a sigh of relief as the cube completes the 75-foot course.
But the exercise is not over. Given smiles and makes a bet. He places a wooden beam vertically on top of the cube. Lower the cube, currently on wooden support beams, to the ground, he says, and if this beam doesn’t fall, he’ll do pushups.
The team takes the bet.
“Everybody’s got to lift together,” Sgt. John Grace, a Long Beach, N.Y. resident and member of the 1156th Engineer Co. “All we’re doing is taking the weight off the rollers. We’re going to lift this thing down soft and gentle.”
The 1156th does these exercises a few times a year, Grace says. Once, they moved 9000 pounds. But at very last second, just as the cube comes to rest upon the ground, the wooden beam perched on top of the cube wobbles and falls to the ground.
The team groans. They lost bet. Now they have to do pushups.
Givens laughs and joins in. The cube exercise is mostly for team building and helping Soldiers think outside the box, the instructor says, but the lessons from this will help the team gain the knowledge, skills and abilities necessary to prevent, prepare for, respond to and recover from natural disasters or terrorist-related incidents.
“That’s our goal,” Givens says, “to be able to go into an operation and execute the mission.”
The team rises from their pushups. The training has just begun.
“You got to keep your troops motivated,” Martinez says. “You never know when you have to use the skills here in the real world.”
Joint Training for Disaster Response
Troops Arriving in Central New York
NEW YORK STATE PREPAREDNESS TRAINING CENTER, ORISKANY, N.Y. -- Hundreds of National Guard troops continue to flow in to the New York State Preparedness Training Center here as the Homeland Response Force for FEMA Region II prepares for its validation as a CBRN response element.
All told, more than 1,000 personnel will be present in Oriskany and Utica for the exercise, including all of the evaluators and support staff for the HRF organization that includes more than 700.
New York National Guard forces had the shortest distances to travel, while members of the response force from the New Jersey Army and Air National Guard brought their elements to upstate New York for training.
In addition, liaisons from the Puerto Rico and Virgin Island National Guards are also arriving to be part of the FEMA Region II response force.
The training continues through this week with the validation of team this coming weekend.
ABOUT THE NEW YORK STATE PREPAREDNESS TRAINING CENTER
ORISKANY, N.Y. -- Why train for Weapons of Mass Destruction events or Hazardous Material incidents in Oriskany? The NY State Preparedness Training Center, that's why.
The New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services established the training center in 2006.
The facility, comprised of 723 acres at the former Oneida County Airport prepares traditional and non-traditional first responders to gain the knowledge, skills and abilities necessary to prevent, prepare for, respond to and recover from natural disasters or terrorist-related incidents
National Guard response forces have joined first responders from across the state in training at the site.
SO WHAT EXACTLY IS A HRF?
LATHAM, N.Y. -- As more than 700 Soldiers, Airmen and New York Guard volunteers prepare to arrive in Central New York May 14 for training and validation as the FEMA Region II Homeland Response Force, many might wonder "what exactly is a HRF?"
The HRF provides governors with a response capability to assist first responders in saving lives and mitigate suffering in response to a Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear or High Explosive incident.
The 10 HRFs align with each Federal Emergency Management Agency region to allow for closer and more familiar contact with civilian responders. The National Guard forces also provide a greater responsiveness to local authorities due to their closer geographical locations.
The Region 2 Homeland Response Force directly supports FEMA region two states and territories of New York, New Jersey, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
The Homeland Response Force consists of about 700 Soldiers and Airmen of the National Guard with expertise in search and extraction of disaster victims, incident site security, decontamination, medical treatment and command and control of the mission.
The organization command post is led by the 42nd Infantry Division Headquarters, based in Troy, N.Y.
The HRF is the focal point for increasing response flexibility and lifesaving efforts of local authorities after a CBRN incident in the states supported by FEMA Region 2.
The team trains under Defense Department guidelines to respond within a 6-12 hour window to local authorities after a WMD or other hazardous materials incident requiring assistance from federal military resources. The force is primarily equipped to respond via ground transport to an incident site, but is capable of air transportation to support all the states or territories responding to a CBRN event.
The core of each HRF is a CBRN capability similar to that found in the National Guard's existing CBRN Enhanced Response Force Packages, augmented with additional command and control and security capability. This allows for the force to expand as an incident may require.
At the same time, these National Guard forces must be prepared to provide trained and ready troops to support overseas contingency operations as needed.
The HRF is designed to foster increased dialogue between regional first responders and other state and federal response agencies. The HRF plays an important role at the regional level in helping develop and build regional plans and in working with emergency managers to build a cohesive government response to CBRN incidents at the regional level.
Imagery of CBRN past exercises can be found at www.flickr.com/photos/nyng/with/6318118607/
HOMELAND RESPONSE FORCE MAKING STRIDES TOWARDS CERTIFICATION
UTICA, N.Y.—New York Army National Guard Soldiers from the Troy based 42nd Infantry Division are joining with New York Air National Guard members and New Jersey Army National Guard Soldiers May 7-11 in preparation for their evaluation and certification as a Homeland Response Force (HRF).
When these Soldiers and Airmen complete their final evaluation, scheduled from May 14-20, they will join the ranks of other certified HRF regional units across the country. This final phase of certification will occur both in Utica, where the command and control element will be evaluated, as well as the State Preparedness Training Center located in Oriskany, N.Y, where specialized units training in decontamination, search and rescue, medical, and security will be evaluated.
Commanded by Col. Dennis Deeley, the operations officer for the National Guard's 42nd Infantry Division Headquarters, the New York based HRF but responsive to needs for all of FEMA Region II, will respond to any disaster, manmade or natural, when ordered to do so by the governor.
The HRF will also be responsible for providing support to any disasters that occur in New Jersey, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands, as the HRF boundaries correspond to the already established FEMA regions.
The New York Army National Guard members of the 42nd Infantry Division are no strangers to providing emergency response to their neighbors in need, having been regularly deployed in response to floods, ice storms, and hurricanes. However, the HRF brings additional specialized training and equipment to manage the evolving threats facing America.
The National Guard has traditionally provided engineering, aviation, and command and control services during disaster response, but the HRF adds forces uniquely trained and equipped to manage chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and high explosive components of a disaster, as well as search and rescue, decontamination, and medical assets.
Deeley and the Soldiers and Airmen of the HRF understand that when they are mobilized, it means people are at risk and lives are in danger. “We are ready to deploy in six to twelve hours. This is a no fail mission for us”, said Deeley.