Truax hosts joint 'suspicious' package exercise

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Jon LaDue
  • 115th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
"For the Commander Truax Field"   Emergency responders got the call shortly after it was discovered -- approximately 7:40 a.m. They weren't exactly sure what they were responding to, but it was "suspicious." 

It was a small cardboard box, taped up and found in the command suite of Bldg. 500. It was addressed to the commander with no return address, no postage paid, not even a real address. 

The suspicious package exercise was held March 18 on Truax Field as part of a yearly requirement to test the emergency management and response capabilities for natural or man-made threats. The exercise involved every group on base and a few external organizations as well. 

"The exercise was intended to test the capabilities of each responding element working together under Air Force Emergency Management and communication processes. It's rare that all agencies are given the opportunity to work together and see what each agency brings to the (table)," said Senior Master Sgt. Christopher Lemke, 115th Security Forces Squadron. 

Tech. Sgt. Stephanie Miles, 115 FW, discovered the package and, according to exercise evaluators, acted appropriately and in line with what today's Airmen are trained to do. 

"Sergeant Miles did an outstanding job of recognizing the package did not belong in the area," said Lt Col John Gaedke, 115th Mission Support Group. "She sounded the alarm, which then activated all emergency response forces." 

Security forces quickly set up a cordon around the building and were the first to evaluate the package. 

The 115th Explosive Ordnance Disposal flight then maneuvered their F6-A Andros hazardous duty robot up the stairs to the second floor of Bldg. 500 to assess the package. After the Explosive Ordnance Disposal team finished their examination of the package and found it to be free of any explosive threat, they turned it over to the 54th Civil Support Team to further evaluate the package. 

"It is rare that an exercise goes exactly as planned," said Sergeant Lemke. "In reality, it's the decisions and actions of the players that dictate how the exercise goes." 

In addition to the 115 FW's involvement, many agencies from outside the gate participated as well, to include the 54 CST, U.S. Postal Service Investigation, Federal Bureau of Investigation - Madison Office and the Wisconsin Joint Operation Center. 

"In the post 9/11 world, it is critical that all agencies can work and communicate with each other," said Col. Joseph Brandemuehl, 115th Fighter Wing Commander. "Everyone did a great job and really reinforced joint operations." 

The 54 CST responded with a decontamination trailer, equipment, personnel and a lot of experience and insight. Their primary role was to provide Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear response and support capabilities. They provided decontamination for 115 EOD equipment, which in a real-world situation could mean its availability for future contingencies. 

After a truly joint effort in recognizing, communicating, evaluating and neutralizing the threat, every player gained a little more experience and when the after action report is published, everyone will be able to take those lessons and apply them to future scenarios or even real-world events. 

"Exercises help us prepare and train for real world emergencies. They allow us to sit down afterward and evaluate every aspect of the scenario, to determine what worked well and what areas need attention," said Colonel Brandemuehl. "The more exercises we do, the better prepared we are when we deploy overseas or respond to a State or local emergency."