INDIANAPOLIS — Concerning sights and sounds cover the grounds of the Muscatatuck Urban Training Center, but rest assured, all these civilians are acting.
Local men and women in uniform are training for a five-kiloton nuclear explosion.
“This would be, you know, America’s worst day, right? And that’s sort of the theme that we constantly come back to," Army Colonel Joe Junguzza said.
More than 100 residents, like Deanna Carmichael, are playing victims for the training exercise.
Carmichael’s volunteered for this military exercise for three years in a row. This year, she was assigned to play the role of an 82-year-old woman and has to act like she's delirious.
Her family of six joined in the exercise with her.
“It’s really exciting, we always come home and we have so much to talk about around the dinner table,” Carmichael said.
It’s a lot to talk about because they’re seeing things most of us don’t get to.
With the direction of the National Guard, Army Reserve and active duty, all volunteers go through the decontamination process.
“Honestly we really appreciate our military so much more after being involved in it,” Carmichael said.
Military members are invested in the training too and wear full chemical protection suits in the spring heat.
It beats using only dummies and it forces the service members to deal with people’s emotions during a huge explosion.
Drew Trousdell is with the contract support team for this exercise.
“We have whole families out here. We have whole communities out here,” Trousdell said.
The volunteers don’t hold back on making the situation realistic.
“It blew me away; I didn’t understand how personal it was probably for these people," Trousdell said.
As the team lead at Booz Allen Hamilton, Trousdell coordinates between the civilians and the military to facilitate the training.
He has the experience to put this training exercise together well.
He said he’s been “doing the joint exercise and military exercise for about 18 (years) [with] 21 years of military before that.”
Trousdell said this year they had a bigger turnout from the community. They also increased training events for the military members by 40%.
Junguzza says the service members get excited by the challenge.
“People don’t join the Army to do easy things, and this clearly is not easy,” Junguzza said.
It’s a standard scenario that’s published by the Department of Homeland Security, but it’s a unique opportunity for different military branches to work together.
“You want these units to train as much as they can, so if God forbid this were to happen, they can react very quickly and get those people out," Junguzza said.
The exercise isn’t meant to scare the community, but it's teamwork that's bringing Hoosiers together to help our military members prepare to protect all of us.
Organizers tell WRTV this training took about a year to prepare for; they started getting ready for it last July. The Guardian Response exercise also brings more than 2,000 participants at a time to the Butlerville, Indiana facility, which creates an income source for the community.
While we were at the Muscatatuck Urban Training Center, WRTV also got to see the other training spaces for our military men and women.
They have everything from a real section of an old subway train to set ups for a flood rescue or crushed parking lot scenario.
The base has even been used for several documentaries and films, but most importantly it’s to help our service members learn and practice the skills they need to protect our country.