Volume 2, Issue 2 bullet Summer 2010



First training exercise held at Calamityville

It felt eerily real.

training exerciseDazed, blood-spattered soldiers sprawled on the ground. Moans and cries for help filled the air. A military rescue helicopter swooped down from above.

The mass-casualty training exercise held on May 5 was the first for Calamityville, a disaster-response training site that features a towering structure once used as a cement factory.

Formally known as the National Center for Medical Readiness Tactical Laboratory at Calamityville, the project is the brainchild of the Department of Emergency Medicine.

“Literally hours after taking possession of the site from the city of Fairborn, we’ve got boots on the ground doing the first exercise,” said Mark Gebhart, M.D., associate professor of emergency medicine and director of the center. “This will become very, very common out here.”

The 52-acre Calamityville site is designed to partner military and civilian first responders to create a more effective response to unthinkable, real-world events.

The exercise in May simulated the after-effects of an earthquake and building collapse. Victims were lying both outside and inside the hulking, weather-beaten building that sits over a maze of tunnels.

Air Force Maj. John Dorsch, D.O., a physician and second-year resident in the Department of Emergency Medicine residency program, said some of the first responders weren’t told of the building-collapse scenario until they arrived on the scene, in order to heighten realism.

“It’s more useful to react to a situation and try to sort it out than to have it scripted and follow the playbook,” Dorsch said. “And what I was hoping to do with this is create an opportunity for young medical personnel in the military to be stretched, to think about mass-casualty events in austere, limited-resource environments.”

About 50 first responders and 40 casualty volunteers took part in the exercise.

Participants included the 88th Medical Group and 445th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron from Wright-Patterson Air Force Base; the Army’s 101st Aviation Regiment; the Kentucky Air National Guard’s 123rd Special Tactics Squadron; the Air Force Reserve Command’s 910th Airlift Wing from Youngstown; the city of Fairborn; and Miami Valley Hospital.