Emergency management leaders observe disaster training in Oklahoma

Emergency management leaders from nine different states recently visited Camp Gruber near Muskogee, Oklahoma, to attend a training exercise conducted by the Texas Military Forces Homeland Response Force.

Military and civilian visitors were on hand to observe disaster preparedness certification training at the camp. On March 5, the HRF began a week-long exercise involving approximately 800 servicemembers practicing their response to large-scale disasters, dvidshub.net reports.

Col. Patrick Hamilton, the domestic operations commander with Texas Military Forces, said the HRF often conducts training with other civilian agency first responders. He said the National Guard provides first responders with additional resources to help them manage crises.

The simulation involved two large chemical attacks and a broken water main. Servicemembers trained to help first responders in casualty evacuation, triage and search and rescue.

"The HRF is a force multiplier," Kelly Cook, the critical infrastructure director for the Texas Commission of Environmental Quality, said, according to dvidshub.net. "We do a lot of the same things, but Texas is a big state and they provide much needed support for large disasters."

There are 10 HRFs in the U.S. and each one must be recertified every 24 months. Leaders from other states were on hand to observe the exercise and assist their own unit operations, dvidshub.net reports.

The Homeland Response Force is made up of guard soldiers and airmen with the skills necessary to respond to domestic attacks and disasters. The Texas Military Forces HRF falls under Region 6 of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.