Team XL helps Sheriff's Department
By 2nd Lt. David J. Tart, 47th Flying Training Wing Public Affairs
/ Published November 19, 2012
LAUGHLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- Team XL members helped the Val Verde County Sherriff's Department by volunteering in a prison exercise on Nov. 14 at the county jail.
The prison exercise consisted of 19 off-duty volunteers from Team XL dressed up in prison uniforms and assigned a number of medical issues to test the prison guards and medical staff. The live exercise was designed to give the guards and medical staff hands-on training as if a real incident had occurred.
"It is one thing to ask a guard or medical staff how they would react to a situation theoretically, but live acting volunteers really put their knowledge to the test," said Lt. Joe Cortinas, of the Val Verde County Sheriff's Department.
The staff of the prison were not informed of the arrival of the volunteers, who dressed up and were transported by a Sherriff's Department bus to the prison. When they exited the bus they looked like they had handcuffs on and entered the prison holding area. The volunteers were placed in a number of cells, away from the prison population, throughout the prison to start acting out the simulated riot.
Simulations included hostage taking, medical triage and hostile inmates.
"Once the exercise started the alarms and volume went up, it was a pretty intense experience," said 2nd Lt. Evan Ross, a volunteer from the 47th Student Squadron. "Once they started threatening us with gas, we knew the guards really meant business."
After the guards had secured the prison, the medical team moved in to perform triage. They had to perform CPR, set bones, suture wounds and send people to mental health facilities. During the triage, the medical team had to work around prisoners being escorted and the yells of patients for help.
"It was a fun volunteer opportunity and a great way to support the community," said 2nd Lt. Vann Neal, a volunteer from the 47th STUS.
The entire exercise lasted 45 minutes, but as the prison warden explained it was invaluable.
"The hands-on training with real people is a huge help to the prison staff. If an incident like this breaks out, this training is what is going to help us be prepared," said Warden Brett Bement. "I would like to thank all the volunteers for helping out; it really does help the prison staff and the community."