The exercise was aimed at preparing Guard members for disaster scenarios.
Nearly 200 members of the Ohio National Guard took part in a training exercise this past week to prepare themselves to deal with disasters that could level buildings. One of the scenarios they trained for is a nuclear attack on America.
"America's worst nightmare, we're the answer," said Capt. Aaron Barrett.
The training exercise involved everything from urban search-and-rescue with Guard members searching a collapsed parking garage for victims to decontamination of victims of a nuclear blast.
"If we're being called up, it's a disaster," Barrett said.
The unit has to be ready to go within six hours of getting a call. They respond to anywhere inside FEMA Region 5, which includes Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin. They might respond to a community leveled by a tornado, a terrorist attack, or an earthquake.
The training involved instructors from Ohio Task Force 1, the state's top urban search-and-rescue team that responds to disasters all across the nation and the world. Jeff McDonough, a Cincinnati firefighter, who is also a member of Ohio Task Force 1, says having the Guard trained for events like this makes the response bigger and better.
"We can take some of our trained individuals and put them in with the National Guard and get out there and do more work," he said.
Guard members spent many days in full uniform working in the hottest weather of the year sawing, jackhammering, and removing concrete slabs from a simulated disaster site. Not only did they have to deal with concrete and rebar but also smashed vehicles where victims could be trapped. They used ropes and harnesses to hoist victims to safety.
The exercise is just another step in an intense training that the unit goes through to be ready to deal with anything.
"There's a lot of training and prep that goes on before we can even utilize them in the fighting force," Barrett said.
If the unit is called out, Barrett says they respond as a support group -- not to take over the rescue operation. He says they learn to work with incident commanders like fire or police chiefs. They also have to deal with making sure communications equipment is in place to allow them to cross-talk between agencies during a disaster response.