We just finished Drill this month, early. Why? Well, we've been coordinating and are continuing to coordinate training on MASCAS events. Mainly, because if the State Defense Force gets called up, its likely going to be one such event. State Defense Force/State Guard units are next in line when the National Guard is swamped or deployed over seas (during Katrina, the State Guard in Louisiana and several other states like Maryland responded until the US Army and the State of LA were able to get the bulk of their National Guard units back from Iraq and other locations... Hence the purpose of a Title 32 State Guard/Defense Force... YES, the National Guard NEEDS backed up once in a while...) to respond to crisis. Our instructor (who is an active duty medic and volunteering his weekend to train us) worked with the New York State Guard during 9/11/01 and has felt the urgency in ensuring that State Guard/Defense Forces need as much training as their National Guard, Reserve, and Active duty counter parts based on that experience.
About three months ago, he approached us and expressed an interest in helping us a few weekends to get us up to speed with the likely procedures in use today, starting at the very basic level. We are still at the crawling phase in our training, but now we are thinking about how to handle the crisis. Our medics (many of whom are EMT, ranging from in EMT courses now, to full Paramedics with combat/ full time ambulance experience) were as always the center focus of training, with all the rest of us learning what we can do to back them up during a MASCAS event. Everything from initial triage, placement of each level of triage, to the roles such as site security and public affairs were discussed. Should something happen, we now are better prepared to fill in the appropriate roles!
One of the best things that folks in the public at large should learn about mass casualty events is that YOU could be a first responder. Learn basic first aid and CPR! You never know where this might come in handy. With basic first aid training you go from being just a witness or victim of an event (like an earthquake, flood, fire, or God forbid a terrorist act like 9/11) to being someone who can assist the folks in uniform in at the very least bearing a litter and holding pressure on a dressing to stabilize bleeding. You can bet that in the event of a MASCAS, that kind of assistance will be both needed and welcome. One thing that I always liked about the military, in these events, rank vanishes and anyone walking tends to automatically know that they have a role to fill (generals carrying litters and holding field dressings has happened many times throughout history...). Take that example to heart. Anyone with medical training of any variety should step up and do what they can. Citizens are the first responders in every MASCAS! Know enough to be able to be more than 'just a bystander' getting in the way! Mentally, accept the possibility of the worst possible event and you just increase your chances of survival tremendously!
I'd also encourage folks to learn a little more about what State Guard and State Defense Forces do, and why they are so important to the security and readiness of our country and states! For veterans, this is a great way to serve your country once again when you are done with Active Duty, National Guard or Reserve time! You don't deploy overseas, you might go to another state, but for most units there is no age limits (obviously, you will be assigned duties accordingly...). If anyone in Alaska is interested, just shoot me a message and I'll get you more information on the 49th Civil Affairs Brigade (SEP) Alaska State Defense Force (formerly the Alaska Territorial Guard back in WWII), and in particularly the 3rd MP Battalion here in Fairbanks.
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