By Staff Sgt. Jordan Hack
Utah National Guard
Service members with the Utah National Guard’s Region VIII Homeland Response Force displayed efficiency and effectiveness during a readiness validation exercise at Camp Williams, Utah, from Aug. 3-7, 2022. During the exercise, they demonstrated the ability to rapidly deploy, convoy to an incident site, set up, and conduct individual and collective tasks over a 36-hour period of time. Tasks included search and extraction, decontamination, medical triage and stabilization, and fatality search and recovery.
The HRF mission involves identifying, training, and maintaining a deployable force of 500-plus service members who are ready to respond within the continental United States in the event of a catastrophic chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, or all-hazard event in order to mitigate suffering and loss of life. Every three years, the HRF must pass an evaluation to certify the teams are mission ready.
“We have partnerships with our local agencies that provide safety and lifesaving measures to civilians,” said Lt. Col. Erick Wiedmeier, Utah’s Region VIII HRF commander. “We provide a high level of chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear expertise and response not found in other organizations.”
Instructing HRF Soldiers at the new Collapsed Structure Venue Site, Shawn Murphy with Utah Task Force 1, spoke about the importance of the evaluation.
“It's fun being on the same page with people that are outside of our immediate organization,” said Murphy. “Hopefully we never need to use these skills. But in a teaching environment, it’s important to be able to speak the same language.”
“The National Guard has capabilities that we simply don’t have, and that’s important to us so that we all work together and can complete the mission,” he continued.
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