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Disaster response training under way in the County

DART-helicopter-scPrince Edward County was the island country of Limeria this month – in desperate need of help following a 7.8 magnitude earthquake.

From headquarters at the Belleville Armouries, the Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) landed Feb. 29, in response to the mock disaster that recorded 12,000 dead and another 200,000 people with various degrees of injuries from minor to life-threatening. With a lot of infrastructure destroyed, survivors were without water, sewage and passage ways were blocked.

DART-logisticsThe military exercise wraps up Thursday for the 204 Canadian contingent participants. Griffon helicopters and C130 Hercules have been flying over the County, as well as to Trenton and Belleville over the course of the exercise to assist the military personnel on the ground – mostly in various areas at Sandbanks Provincial Park, at CFS Mountain View and at Picton Airport.

“We create scenarios DART encounters when we respond to a disaster anywhere in the world,” said Major Richard Langlois, Public Affairs Officer, 1st Canadian Division. “We wanted to simulate an island and had hoped originally to have the Navy involved as well, but that didn’t work out this time,” said Langlois, noting the County is in perfect proximity to DART’s 1st Canadian Division Headquarters in Kingston and the people being deployed from various units. “We rely on the engineering squadrons from Petawawa and Gagetown and field ambulances for the medical. There are always various tasks, but everybody has to be ready to deploy within 12 hours notice.”

DART is multi-national in terms of aid response and typically responds to a request for help from a country’s government.

Military and foreign affairs personnel from China and Mexico were also at Sandbanks on Monday to observe.

“They are very interested in our deployment of DART because they are equipped to respond to disasters in their own countries, but the concept of deploying their own military to another country for assistance is foreign to them.”
DART-at-sandbanks“Everyone with DART has a role, but if we need more people to help clear debris or on other tasks, we will send more to assist with long-term recovery projects,” said Langlois.

Monday, crews used chainsaws on some trails inside the park to clear passage ways.

“We’re removing fallen trees and brush using a variety of methods and it gives us an opportunity to train for a situation we might encounter at a disaster scene,” said Corporal Trevor McGuire. “There might be a situation where we would have to clear debris for paramedics and emergency teams and this gives us a realistic setting.”

“There are a whole broad range of tasks including protecting without weapons, guarding sensitive areas to protecting Canadian Forces equipment and personnel,” said Capt. Ramsay Haug.

DART serves three critical needs in these emergencies: water purification, primary medical care and engineering help. DART is equipped to conduct emergency relief operations (at home and abroad) for up to approximately 40 days to bridge the gap until national and international aid agencies can provide long-term help.

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