By Michael Golembesky
21st Space Wing Public Affairs staff writer
PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — First responders’ sirens wailed moments after a tornado briefly touched down, leaving a path of destruction after ripping through a warehouse near the flightline and injuring several workers.
This was the scenario that played out during the recent quarterly Condor Crest exercise, which is designed to test and evaluate the response capabilities of base assets to deal with any type of emergency.
A major part in providing an effective and productive training exercise is the ability of the role-players to make it look and feel as real as possible to everyone involved.
“I am hoping that they will have a realistic experience from the reactions I give; that’s what I really want to do, give the responders something more realistic than just a body laying there,” said Tech. Sgt. Steve Lovato, 21st Medical Group executive officer and member of the wing inspection team.
With five Condor Crest exercises under his belt, Lovato knows there is more going on behind the scenes than people realize.
“My job as a role-player is really the easy part, the hard part is that it takes months and months for everyone to get together to develop these exercises and realistic scenarios,” he said. “I just get to have fun; the real credit goes to all of the people working behind the scenes,” he added.
Some of those people working behind the scenes are part of the moulage team. Moulage is a French word for casting or molding and is the art of applying mock injuries for the purpose of training emergency responders, medical and military personnel.
Looking the part is critical to making the scenario realistic but knowing how to act out the right symptoms for an injury is what makes it believable.
“We have medical experts on the wing inspection team that tell me exactly what I need to do and how to act to make it seem real,” said Lovato. “No one is just going to lay there hurt saying ‘oh, help me, help me.’ It is going to be dramatic; people are going to be yelling and rolling, worried and stressed about their friends who may be injured as well,” he added.
Lovato’s role goes far beyond just playing a wounded Airman during the exercise. He is also observing and taking mental notes to help evaluate the response effort.
“Because I am also a team member of the wing inspection team, I have a unique perspective of the first responders. I am observing so we can get the bigger picture of what’s going on, things we see that are good, and things we may need a little bit more practice on,” said Lovato.