Community College of Aurora Aids National Defense Prep at Vigilant Guard ‘13
Simulation capabilities, fully functional Emergency Operations Center at CCA, a Colorado community college, make it a go-to locale for military entities.
Denver, CO (PRWEB) July 31, 2013
The Center for Simulation, Disaster Management Institute and the realism interjected into campus buildings continue to make CCA, an Aurora and Denver community college, the best-kept secret in ensuring that our military is prepared for disasters of all types.
CCA was one of the primary hosts for Vigilant Guard ’13, an exercise that encompassed a wide swathe of Denver-metro area locales and took two years to plan. It puts Civil Support Teams from six Western States through real-life scenarios that will boost preparedness in both manmade and weather-related disasters.
From July 22-24, the college hosted numerous National Guard units with key components being search, evacuation and decontamination after a ‘tornado’ rips through a building and leaves at least one potential victim trapped.
But the real benefit came from medical teams that were able to practice their techniques and protocols in the field, both on human subjects and on high-tech simulation mannequins that can mirror a host of health-related issues.
“We were contracted not only with Vigilant Guard but outside Vigilant Guard to deliver the medical portion and that’s really unique,” said Pony Anderson, director of the DMI and sim-center at CCA.
“We can do that seamlessly through the college’s excellent medical capabilities. Kelly Cowan wrote the scenarios in conjunction with Maj. Tony Shock with the Colorado 8th Civil Support Team and did a very good job training these teams up, and then, Gaumard, which manufactures the (patient) simulators and is our partner, flew in a former Navy corpsman and an expert on the mannequins to assist the training.” Kelly is a primary instructor in CCA’s Aurora and Denver EMT training program.
CCA has been a go-to spot for several years for the military, which is excited about the college’s wide-ranging capabilities in numerous scenarios.
On June 8, a combined force of more than 200 National Guard soldiers from both the Army and Air Force took part, including one of 17 national Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and Explosive Enhanced Response Force Package (CERFP) teams. In that exercise (and at CCA later in July) they practiced their skills in three primary areas of expertise: search and evacuation; decontamination; and medical.
The CERFP teams used this important training as the basis of graded exercises that are a national standard for recertification.
“What’s most important is that we have different areas that are unique and present different challenges,” said LTC Seamus Doyle, commander of the Colorado National Guard CERFP. “What’s great about the location at Community College of Aurora is that we have a building that we can tear up to replicate an actual disaster-type event occurring at that location and also the area outside of it for establishing our area of operations.
“What that does is stress us to deploy multiple teams simultaneously in different types of events that we don’t really get in other training areas. So it’s unique that CCA has different areas that require different skills we can customize.”
Those capabilities have been used by more than 11 agencies at the local, state and federal levels, a group that includes The Federal Bureau of Investigation, law enforcement, SWAT, Explosive Ordinance Device (EOD) bomb squads, HazMat, as many as 80 local fire departments, in addition to high-level operators for the Department of Defense. Those latter groups span the U.S. Army and Air Force Reserves, CBRNE Enhanced Response Force Package (CERFP) and many more.
In the most recent exercise, Civil Support Teams from Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah and North Dakota sent more than 2,500 soldiers to nine locales in metro Denver with scenarios that, beside the CCA chemical dispersal drill, involved a train derailment, elevator shaft entrapment and other mass rescues.
“Anything we can do to be more prepared is important,” Anderson said. “It gives the Guard an opportunity to train with its civilian counterparts, which is always a fantastic opportunity. You don’t want to exchange business cards at an event.”
That’s unlikely at CCA, given the scope of some of its hosted exercises in recent years and the symbiotic relationship it’s built with various local and national forces. In addition to establishing itself as a training ground for first responders, search-and-rescue-teams and the military, educators from around the U.S., Australia, Norway, the United Kingdom and elsewhere have visited the spaces at CCA to learn the technology, glean expertise and prepare future spaces worldwide as a future cog in teaching.
For CCA’s portion of the 11 overall scenarios hatched for Vigilant Guard ’13, the aftermath of a tornado was brought to life by having the interior of a ‘hotel’ battered by the high winds and with a potential roof collapse a distinct possibility. It added stress to the rescue teams sent in to extricate the survivor(s) by injecting a possible deadly mix of chemical exposure to the scenario.
“They did an outstanding job setting up the facility and making it real life,” said Sean Hatchett, incident commander for the CCA exercise and, in his regular job, a civilian firefighter and captain of the hazardous materials team in Jacksonville, Fla.
“I think some of these teams aren’t used to going in and not really having a real-life venue where they have to actually traverse and trip over stuff. We don’t want to hurt anybody, but it’s just enough to make it difficult to maneuver around and it challenged the guys and added a sense of realism to the scenario.
“Everything else went really well, too. We got immediate feedback to learn mistakes the soldiers made and will quickly learn from them.”
That’s the crux of this vital training: making mistakes at play so that when real-world instances take place, there are few, if any, surprises having had these practice runs.
Community College of Aurora has campuses at CentreTech and Lowry in the greater Denver area. Equipped with the latest technologies, CCA allows students to study new and traditional programs, while also offering degrees and online classes in Colorado. CCA’s service community spans 325,000 people in a 350-square-mile area and CCA’s student population reflects that diversity. The college provides lifelong educational opportunities, prepares the current and future workforce, and promotes excellence in teaching, learning and service.
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