AURORA | Adrienne Carter lay motionless on the concrete, her face bloodied and her limbs rendered useless by a recent explosion.
As she awaited help in front of a building at the Community College of Aurora’s Lowry campus on June 8, she offered a few signs that her injuries weren’t as grave as they seemed. Every once in a while, she’d raise her head and look back into the structure behind her, waiting for the members of the National Guard who were in the midst of an intense training exercise.
Carter was just one of dozens of actors playing roles in an intricate training exercise at the CCA campus last week. More than 200 National Guard soldiers from the Army and the Air Force visited the former Lowry Air Force Base to play out a fictional emergency scenario that included responding to a bomb detonation and dealing with a cache of chemical weapons. Participants donned hazmat suits, they rescued victims from a collapsed parking structure and they collaborated with an onsite incident commander.
The realism of the exercise came thanks to the extensive resources at the CCA Lowry campus. From a mock hotel building to a carefully constructed pile of outdoor rubble, the campus offered plenty of convincing detail.
“It has a lot of value. It’s almost real-world,” said Army Sgt. 1st Class Dave Smith who served as safety officer during the exercise. He pointed to a nearby rubble pile where soldiers worked to extract victims. “That rubble could shift at any time. They have to be aware of that at all times.”
The exercise also had value for the CCA faculty who helped set up the scenes and coordinate the action. The exercise saw participation from Aurora firefighters as well as the college’s Center for Simulation and Disaster Management Institute.
“We are a community college and we are a community asset,” said Pony Anderson, simulation center coordinator. “So is the National Guard. The things that we do here build on that community platform.”
Reach reporter Adam Goldstein at 720-449-9707 or [email protected]