Army Reservists take part in disaster training at Camp Douglas

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CAMP DOUGLAS (WITI) -- Our military men and women put their lives on the line to protect this country, and that mission doesn't end when they return home. One of the largest stateside training operations for military men and women in the country is right here in Wisconsin!

Destructive tornadoes, a terrorist attack and a plane crash are all tragic events that can happen anywhere.

Far from the front lines of war, our military men and women are retraining themselves to deal with the kind of devastation these kind of events can create.

"We`re really good at doing our wartime mission and to translate that capability in a civilian scenario requires a lot of practice and that`s pretty much why we`re here," Lt. Col. David Spisso said.

"The scenario that we`ve been given is that a large structure, a hotel, had an explosion.  Parts of the hotel have collapsed with people inside and that`s why they`re down range now extracting those people," Lt. David Coberly said.

In this simulation, actors play the part of injured civilians -- some even contaminated with a dirty bomb.

The Patriot Exercise at Volk Field and Camp Douglas brings together roughly 40 National Guard units from more than 30 states. Their training mission involves working with local authorities, responding to any situation thrown at them.

This training also marked the first time Army Reserve units have been a part of the exercise. It comes on the heels of a new law allowing federal forces to be used for state disasters.

"As this thing built we started to get more attention from the Army Reserve.  They saw the opportunity to exercise some of their capability for what we`re trying to do with this domestic operation exercise," Lt. Col. Spisso said.

Specialist Tyler Caelwaerts is one of those reservists. His unit is responsible for all of the drinking water being used.

"In normal operations we have three, 3,000 gallon bags to store our water in," Caelwaerts said.

Lack of clean water is a real-life scenario seen at nearly ever major disaster in the United States.

"When Hurricane Katrina came in they had to purify water there," Caelwaerts said.

With the addition of Reserve forces, the combination of military and civilian responders should be even better equipped to handle a disaster.

The training exercise ran for nearly a week, and involved more than 2,000 soldiers, Airmen and civilian responders.