Exercise tests Belvoir's first responders
by Sgt. Ed Passino
MDW News Service
Fort Belvoir, Va., July 5, 2001 What seemed
like just another ordinary Thursday morning at the Military Police
desk here June 29, quickly turned when MPs received a call from
a frantic woman about 10 a.m.
"There was an explosion, wounded soldiers are laying all over the
place. There are little kids too," the woman yell into a cellular
phone directed to the military police desk sergeant on the other
"We need help, send somebody, they're going to die," she raged
Spread out across the amphitheater grounds 13 wounded soldiers
lay, some apparently unconscious, others groaning in pain from rent
limbs and other wounds.
Before the woman got off the phone, Military Policemen Sgt. Douglas
Becker and Spc. Anthony Clingerman arrived on the scene.
After taking a quick survey of the grounds Becker and Clingerman
realized this was a training exercise.
"The 'First Team' organizations knew that there was going to be
a Post MASCAL [mass casualty] training exercise some where on post.
But they didn't know the location, the day or time it was going
to happen," said Percy Perry, mobilization officer for the Directorate
of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security here. "This exercise
was designed to enhance the first ready response in dealing with
the effects of a terrorist incident involving an explosion," he
Despite the scenario being a training exercise, Becker and Clingerman
evaluated and provided first aid to the wounded soldiers.
"You start with that half I'll go over here," Becker shouted to
Clingerman as the two began providing medical relief. "And watch
out for any bombs or devices."
Within four minutes another pair of MPs arrived, one providing
help to the wounded while the other began roping-off the scene.
"We, as law enforcers, and medics are in the saving lives business.
If that means putting our lives in danger to save a group of people,
that's what we have to do," Clingerman said, explaining why he and
Becker decided to enter the explosion site before it had been deemed
safe by an Explosive Ordnance Disposal unit. "You think people waited
for the EOD after the Oklahoma City bombing? Of course not," Clingerman
said, as he wrapped a plastic wrap over the exposed internal organs
of a wounded soldier.
The Fort Belvoir Fire Department arrived soon after and provided
stretchers as the MPs carried the victims off the site.
"The 'first response' is anyone from the MPs, fire department,
or MEDDAC," Perry said. "All are involved and have their specific
roles. But the number one priority of this exercise was to see how
these units worked together in responding to terrorist action.
"Fort Belvoir is vulnerable to a terrorist, or other man-made threats.
Every military installation in the world is," Perry said. "And at
any time a terrorist, or common criminal, act could occur without
Members of the emergency relief department from DeWitt Army Community
Hospital arrived and provided transportation to the hospital for
the injured who required further medical attention.
"We do MASCAL training periodically throughout the year," said
Sgt. 1st Class Donald McCasland, the noncommissioned officer in
charge of training for MEDDAC. "Normally our MASCAL exercises are
internal, but this one was designed to test our external response.
We dispatched one ambulance immediately after the initial call,
and then a second to set up an on-site triage to provide medical
The results of the exercise showed rapid deployment and communication
within the "First Team."
"At the end of the exercise only one soldier died," Perry said.
"All three 'First Team' teams responded quickly and with the right
equipment to limit casualties. The units did a great job of communicating
with one another which showed in the results and evaluation of the
(Passino is a staff writer with the Fort Belvoir Eagle.)