FORT MCCOY, Wis. (July 18, 2019) – During Patriot North disaster training operations at Fort McCoy Army Installation, the Security Forces teams invited Salvation Army canteen volunteers to play a role in their exercises over multiple days. While serving water and snacks, the canteens were surrounded by unruly participants simulating angry mobs of residents. The Security Forces practiced subduing the threat, and protecting the canteen volunteers from encroaching actors who were attempting to rush the canteen and take their supplies.
The partnership and trust being built between The Salvation Army and military Security Forces was a highlight for The Salvation Army McCoy Operations Chief Bill Grier, who said the training value of being involved in military exercises is priceless.
“The more involved they ask us to be in injects, the better off [The Salvation Army] will be in disaster response,” said Grier.
As someone who has been involved in disaster response for over 20 years, with 27 major deployments under his belt, Grier remarked that disasters “only work well when you have well-built, well-established partnerships” developed before a disaster hits. He continued, “So working together with the military, law enforcement, and the like is key” at disaster training exercises like Patriot North.
The Salvation Army volunteers found it valuable training experience, as well.
Canteen SATERN (ham radio) operator David Byrne reflected: “Often in Emergency Management we find ourselves waiting for something to happen, which happened to me yesterday waiting for the exercise to begin. So, I got lax in my situational awareness. Then when the exercise players surrounded our van, the surprise, and our reaction to it, was real.”
Agitated, aggressive, emotional crowds, like the ones simulated in the training exercise are not uncommon in disasters. Canteen volunteers Phillip and Christine Powers commented, “When we were deployed to California for the wildfires, we definitely saw people who were angry because of their situation.” “It can make you feel helpless,” they continued. So, learning how to respond to the crowds, and how to stay safe when the situation escalates, is important learning for them.
The Salvation Army deployed 25 of their 75 volunteers to Fort McCoy throughout the Patriot North disaster training exercise. In addition to partnering in the training exercises, The Salvation Army also delivered over 250 meals and dozens of cases of water each day to the military personnel at Fort McCoy.
To learn more about how you can become a Salvation Army EDS volunteer, attend EDS training, or to donate to The Salvation Army, visit CentralUSASalvationArmy.org.
Kansas-Western Missouri EDS Volunteers Phillip and Christine Powers hone their skills at the Patriot North training exercise
FORT MCCOY, Wis. (July 17, 2019) – When disaster strikes, The Salvation Army relies on volunteers like Phillip and Christine Powers to help execute their operations and serve those in need.
The Powers are two of 75 Salvation Army Central Territory volunteers participating in this year’s Patriot North exercise.
The Patriot North is a Domestic Operation disaster training exercise, hosted by the Army and Air National Guards. At Patriot, governmental and civilian agencies come together with the purpose of increasing the understanding of coordination, policies, and procedures required in conducting a Joint Inter-Agency domestic disaster response.
Phillip and Christine, of Richmond, MO, are staff members for The Salvation Army in Kansas-Western Missouri Division in Ray and Clay Counties, respectively. They’ve been Emergency Disaster Services volunteers for two years and have done five local and national disaster deployments.
When asked why they chose to participate in this year’s Patriot exercise, Christine said: “We want to do anything we can to add to our tool belt, to help us be the best team players we can be. The goal is to be able to be utilized in any position where there is the greatest need.” This exercise provides valuable training opportunities for them to sharpen a variety of skills.
The Salvation Army Incident Commander Captain John Gantner agrees. “The key to our success [in disasters] is our volunteers, and we offer a really robust training for them,” he said.
Already this week the Powers have learned how to set up an emergency shelter, and were used in a training exercise with the military Security Forces, where they were caught in a simulated riot as they were distributing water and snacks to exercise participants. It’s not uncommon for volunteers to encounter disaster survivors who are emotionally charged: upset, angry, distraught, stressed. And even in a training environment, the Powers say they are moved to want to act, to help those in need.
They fully stand behind the mission of The Salvation Army. “We help without discrimination; our mission is to help everyone,” says Phillip Powers.
If you would like to learn more about how you can become a Salvation Army volunteer, like the Powers, visit CentralUSASalvationArmy.org.