Playing a critical role in crisis response

A team of 30 staff and volunteers from the territory participated this summer in the Miles Paratus Exercise, a five-day training exercise with military and civilian components held at two military venues, Volk Field and Fort McCoy, in Wisconsin. It concentrated on coordination of responding to multiple disaster scenarios with disaster response agencies at the local, state and national levels with over 75 agencies and 3,000 participants.

The Salvation Army managed a fixed feeding site, dispatched two canteens and provided hydration service throughout the exercise area.

“We rely heavily on non-government agencies, like The Salvation Army, to provide shelter and canteen style feeding to the civilians in the devastated area. We just don’t have the resources to do all of that,” said Steve Fenski, Wisconsin Emergency Management East Central Regional director.

The Salvation Army’s Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) trained chaplains worked alongside seven military chaplains to provide emotional and spiritual care. “Working with non-military community organizations, like The Salvation Army, helps to add to the long-term care of the individual. It means a lot for us to be able to connect someone into a ‘care network’ within the community for the long haul,” said Lt. Colonel Douglas Hedman of the Wisconsin National Guard.

Throughout the exercise the Salvation Army Team Emergency Radio Network (SATERN) improved internal communication and situational awareness between Salvation Army units.

“I am very pleased with the professionalism of each of the amateur radio operators. We made use of the brand new communications trailer from the Lincoln, Neb., SATERN team. It is totally self-contained and solved a number of logistic issues,” said Aaron Rogge of the Lincoln SATERN team.

Terri Leece, Wisconsin and Upper Michigan Division emergency disaster services director, concluded, “Exercises like these help us hone our skills so that when God calls us to serve His people we are ready to respond.”