Staff Sgt. Edgardo Ramirez, right, a military police Soldier, helps Nowy Vanhedel unload a stretcher. Ramirez and Vanhedel took part in a mass casualty exercise June 1, 2022 at U.S. Army Garrison Benelux - Brunssum. (U.S. Army photo by Charéll de Koster, USAG Benelux Public Affairs)

Mass casualty exercise tests first responders at Brunssum

By Charéll de Koster, USAG Benelux Public Affairs

USAG BENELUX-BRUNSSUM, The Netherlands – Through the corridors of the Directorate of Public Works (DPW) building, cries for help could be heard June 1 at U.S. Army Garrison Benelux – Brunssum, the Netherlands.

The cries were the starting signal for a coordinated and planned training event including U.S. Army military police, emergency management personnel, and members of the Directorate of Public Works.

The exercise started when Math Kubben, a worker with DPW, stumbled upon a simulated workplace accident in the workshop of DPW. Seeing people on the ground with injuries of varying severity, he acted upon the situation. Following standard operating procedures, he raised the alarm and notified both the garrison’s military police (MPs) and the onsite first aid responders, in Dutch called bedrijfshulpverleners (BHVs).

Sirens signaled the arrival of the MPs. Sgt. Samuel Billings and Staff Sgt. Edgardo Ramirez from the Directorate of Emergency Services assessed the situation. They noticed more casualties than they could help on their own and radioed for assistance while continuing to administer first aid to the victims.

The role players wore simulated injury make-up to better replicate the stressful conditions of a real workplace accident.

“Normally the responders would receive a card with the injuries written on them, like ‘This person has a broken arm,’” said John Hopper, emergency manager for the garrison.

During this exercise, one of the injuries simulated a compound fracture where bone broke through skin.

Ramirez bandaged one of the victims (played by Sgt. Jenna Gabaldon), and Billings checked on another victim (played by Sgt. Romale Walker). While the MPs provided help, the BHVs arrived on site to care for a third victim (played by Jeroen Smeets of DPW).

The second sirens announced the arrival of members of the garrison portraying the Koninklijke Marechaussee, or the Royal Marechaussee, the national gendarmerie force of the Netherlands. The part of the KMar was acted out by fire guards Erni Rogier and Nowy Vanhedel.

The emergency responders bandaged the wounds of the role players. Only two stretchers were available, so using their creativity the emergency responders transformed a chair on wheels to carry out a victim.

Carrying the last role-player victim outside signaled the end of the exercise.

Ramirez found the exercise helped him be more efficient in case of a real emergency. Of the exercise as a whole, Hopper said it was “an awesome job.”

In case of a real emergency, community members can pre-program emergency numbers into their telephone. To learn whom to contact, visit the USAG Benelux crisis phone numbers webpage.