Christopher Burnett | Staff Writer
Fort Leavenworth’s annual full-scale emergency management plan exercise April 12 featured coordinating a response to a natural disaster caused by an F-2 tornado striking a portion of the military housing on the post.
John Hughes, emergency management planner in the Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security, said the post is required by Installation Management Command to do an annual exercise to measure its preparedness when faced with different plausible threats. He said the initial assessment of the full-scale exercise was positive.
“Last year, the exercise tested the Garrison’s ability to respond to an improvised explosive device and active-shooter scenario,” Hughes said. “This year, the training went well and tested our ability to address all of the emergency response elements involved when a tornado incident occurs in a community like Fort Leavenworth. An official after-action review is going to be published in a few weeks.”
Edgar Guerra, assistant chief of training for the Fort Leavenworth Fire Department, said his training role encompassed four primary areas for this full-scale exercise — developing challenging objectives for fire department emergency response, setting up a realistic scenario, evaluating the response and providing feedback.
Guerra said having the entire post participate in the exercise allows participants to see the “big picture.” He said in this tornado scenario exercise, victims were rescued from the rubble, treated, sheltered, fed, clothed as needed, then returned to their normal life with a new home.
Guerra said the fire department valued training with the nearly 40 volunteers who added realism by role-playing people in distress and who sometimes resisted evacuation.
“After the exercise, the first response I heard over and over was about the realism of the training,” Guerra said. “Fire department personnel demonstrated great organization, scene management and worked well with other agencies, exceeding my expectations. And, another quick takeaway in assessment would be to continue training and to work with the other organizations to create seamless operations.”
Hughes said the purpose of the Installation Emergency Management Plan is to align the installation’s capabilities and resources into a unified, all-discipline and all-hazards framework for the management of incidents occurring on Fort Leavenworth property. He said the plan serves to assist Fort Leavenworth in accomplishing the emergency management mission of preventing or mitigating the vulnerability of people, property and operations to natural and human-made hazards.
“The plan lays a framework that will allow Fort Leavenworth to prepare for, respond to and recover from incidents that occur as a result of nature or caused by human beings, emergencies or other types of disasters that impact the community,” Hughes said. “Taking prompt and sufficient action to protect lives, property and the environment, while safeguarding the operational integrity of the installation is the ultimate goal. This type of training helps ensure we are ready to meet the various challenges our post may face.”