Unsung heroes in background provide realistic training
Sgt. Candice Harrison,
24th Press Camp Headquarters:
Editor’s note: Soldiers of Fort Bliss’ 24th Press Camp Headquarters are participating in Vibrant Response 13, a multi-service and civilian combined training event, which includes responding to a nuclear blast, throughout Indiana and Kentucky.
Behind the scenes of the special effects used during Vibrant Response 13, maintenance and repair technicians were at the controls providing realistic training Saturday at Muscatatuck Urban Training Complex, Ind.
These men and women lit vehicles and equipment on fire, kept smoke machines rolling, provided other special effects the training calls for and assessed the safety of these special effects.
“It’s as real as you can get it,” said Rodney Morris, a maintenance and repair technician employed by the training complex, of the effects used for the training. “It’s better for the units that come in and train. Hopefully it eliminates some of the surprise.”
Two men were responsible for keeping the “oil refinery” at the complex in controlled chaos for units participating in Vibrant Response 13, a major field training exercise conducted by U.S. Northern Command and led by U.S. Army North.
Flames poured out of giant storage containers. Smoke billowed from under a fuel truck. The refinery itself appeared to be an unstable combination of flammable materials and flames.
Effects were often switched out and added. For example, props that simulate fuel line fires were being installed while a water effect that gave the illusion of oil spraying from a broken pipe was recently removed. The training complex can change the situation to accommodate what the training units require.
Morris disappeared with J.R. Franks, also a maintenance and repair technician with the training complex, into the background as servicemembers arrived for training. The servicemembers had to assess the situation and decide how to proceed.
It’s interesting to watch how different units respond, said Morris. They all have different techniques for dealing with situations.
“It’s a great environment,” said Franks. “There’s always a lot of interesting stuff going on, something new every day.”
Watching servicemembers and civilian forces in action was just one of the perks of the job, Franks and Morris agreed.
Also, getting to work with the smoke, fire and other effects is not so bad, according to Morris.
For these unsung heroes, their job was more than just a chance to earn a paycheck. What they do allows servicemembers and civilians alike to participate in the best training available.
“As the old saying goes, ‘Practice makes perfect.’ The more times you can practice something … the less chance of error,” said Morris. “Then fewer surprises might come up in a real-world incident.”
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