A fake yet important scene was portrayed at the Bramlage Coliseum west parking lot Friday, a decontamination training exercise conducted by the 172nd Chemical Company at Fort Riley.
The scenario envisioned a situation where 1,400 people attended a concert at Bill Snyder Family Stadium. Three explosions occurred involving radiological dispersal devices. The company’s task was to treat the victims.
About 83 soldiers treated 50 role-playing victims as a part of the yearly training the company undergoes.
The exercise is important to let the community know that the group is ready for any situation, said James Barkley, observer controller for U.S. Army North. Barkley graded the company’s performance in the drill, which followed a week of intensive emergency training.
The training exercise occurred close to where the National Bio- and Agro-Defense Facility is to be built, although Barkley said the location was a coincidence.
He said they needed a big area to conduct the training, and K-State let them use the parking lot. “As far as NBAF, I don’t know anything about it,” he said. “I’m just here to help the guys.”
In addition to the Fort Riley soldiers, the exercise included personnel from K-State Police Department and members of Riley County’s emergency medical services and fire department. The local officials serve as the leaders of any situation of this nature, Barkley said.
“When these soldiers get out, they know they are supporting the local community,” he said.
Two tents set up in the parking lot served as decontamination sites. In them, the soldiers treated victims for exposure to chemical, biological or radiological contamination.
In the tents, soldiers removed clothing, washed and rinsed the victims, and monitored them. Then, victims were redressed and sent to medical personnel to be taken to the hospital.
Mostly civilians filled the victim roles, responding to a Craigslist posting. Three moulage artists from Advance Technical Education Consultants helped create realistic looking wounds, using injury profiles for each victim.
One of the artists, Charlie Perry, said the injuries included abrasions, blisters, cuts, bruising, possible fractures and burns. “We’re trying to replicate what would happen in a stadium like this,” Perry said.
Perry worked on various victims including Breann Farrell. Farrell, 19, played a 77-year-old woman who couldn’t find her husband. “I think I look good for my age,” she said. Her face was red due to her itching exposed skin. She also had shrapnel from being in the general area of the blast.
Farrell found out about the job from Austin Shepherd, 19. Shepherd played a 47-year-old man who didn’t display any obvious trauma but felt sick. His character had blood splattered on the left side of his face.
“Apparently, this isn’t my blood,” Shepherd said. “Somebody too close to me was blasted.”