'Considerable improvement' seen in September exercise

MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. -- The Maxwell-Gunter Exercise Evaluation Team chief said the September base exercise showed "considerable improvement," especially in the area of major accident response exercises. 

"The MARE went really well," said Gary Looney. "Security forces, the fire department, HAZMAT, Bio-environmental Engineering and the hospital all coordinated their efforts very well. Also, the next-of-kin drill worked. I'm starting to get a confidence that we will do well during the operational readiness inspection MARE." 

He said the bomb threat and the Mental Health clinic drill both came off the way they were intended, which is good news for the 42nd Medical Group. 

Mr. Looney said the Sexual Abuse Response Coordinator segment of the exercise didn't go as well as hoped, and base employees and members need to be more informed about SARC procedures. 

"We need to get people to better understand the difference between restricted and non-restricted reporting of a sexual assault and who to telephone," he said. "The blue sexual assault card that should be by every work telephone on base explains how to proceed when a person, either under your supervision or not, approaches you about a possible sexual assault. Just read it and follow the guidelines." 

Mr. Looney said there is still work to be done concerning contingency, ability to survive and operate, and deployment exercises. He said weapons familiarity has greatly improved, but other aspects of these exercises do need improvement. 

"Also, remember that once you have been identified to participate in a field exercise, start hydrating two or three days before you actually go to Blue Thunder," he said. "Drinking water 48 to 72 hours before the exercise will help keep you hydrated at the facility and also help keep you from passing out due to heat-related problems." 

Mr. Looney said during the ORI, field exercise participants can expect to spend half a day, or maybe even a full day, in chemical suits, and maintaining hydration during that time is vital to the person's health and proper performance while in the suits.