Terre Haute, Ind. --
Members of the 181st Medical Group/19th CERFP Medical Element, 181st Intelligence Group, and Israeli Home Front Command participated in United Front II, a multinational search and rescue exercise in Bloomington, Ind., June 11-13, 2013.
Additional participants included the Bloomington Fire Department, Marine Corp Chemical Biological Incident Response Force, Indiana Task Force 1, 53rd Civil Support Team, Indiana State Police, Veterans Affairs, Civil Air Patrol, and Zihuy Korbanot Ason (ZAKA - an Israeli emergency response organization).
The combined civilian, military, and multi-national search and extraction exercise scenario involved responding to a simulated F5 tornado striking the area.
The joint endeavor included utilizing two collapsed structures at Indiana University, and one off-campus building in downtown Bloomington to conduct search and extraction operations.
The over 90 participants were broken into eight groups of 12 member teams to create diverse skill sets and share valuable search and extraction tactics, techniques and procedures.
"The benefit is we get to work with so many different agencies," said Master Sgt. Sean Fretwell, 181st CERFP search and distraction medical element. "We work with lots of different teams that are extremely experienced and have real-world operational experience," continued Fretwell. "They bring to the table such vast experience and knowledge that we can learn from and utilize when we do get called up to do our mission."
To hone in on specific skill sets and practice using the equipment necessary to participate in the exercise, training included steel cutting, breaching and breaking, lifting and hauling, shoring, ropes, confined spaces, and repel tower training.
During the exercise, members of the 181st Intelligence Group provided Incident Awareness and Assessment (IAA), by assessing the overhead imagery of the infrastructure prior to and after the simulated tornado.
The 181st Intelligence Group was responsible for ensuring a common operating picture for emergency responders, said Maj. Craig Maschino, 181st Intelligence Wing Domestic Operations Coordinator.
When not participating in the exercise, a base camp, or small city of tents, served as a place for exercise participants to get much needed rest. Due to the Israeli diet, exercise participants ate Kosher MREs to ensure they did not cross contaminate with non-Kosher foods. The base camp also housed the Army's 81st Troop Command, who was responsible for conducting Command and Control operations.
With the ability to partner with local, state, and federal agencies, as well as international partners, the 181st Intelligence Wing plays a vital role in the state's total response capability and domestic operations, to include disaster response.