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NMSU Air Force ROTC cadets receive realistic emergency training

Three New Mexico State University Air Force ROTC cadets rush into Young Hall to the sounds of gunfire and a blanket of colored smoke. Wearing standard physical fitness uniforms, they search the building for wounded classmates.

AFROTC cadets at New Mexico State University work together moving the injured during a training exercise Nov. 3. From left to right: Cadet Jesus Sanchez, Cadet Albert Contreras, Cadet Stephen Burris, Cadet Aaron Arnold and Cadet Melody Stine. (NMSU photo by Tonya Suther)

After finding an injured person at the top of the staircase, one cadet grasps the victim under both arms while another lifts his legs and a third cadet secures the area. Together, they strain in the cramped stairwell to hoist the unconscious man down the stairs and toward medical attention.

The unconscious victim was playing a role. His injuries were actually created with theatrical make up, but the skills NMSU's Air Force ROTC cadets demonstrated during this emergency exercise are real.

"The freshmen and sophomores are being assessed. They really don't know what's going on," Lt. Col Daniel Bennett, AFROTC commander at NMSU said. "It's a surprise to them. It creates a level of realism, especially with the fire department."

Forty-three cadets worked together moving the injured and evacuating the building amid smoke bombs and simulated attacks as part of the training exercise in the area around Young, Hardman and Hadley Halls on Nov. 3.

The scenario dealing with realistic injuries was one of several designed to test the underclassmen cadets' abilities to perform under stress and prepare them to respond to various emergencies such as masked gunmen, hostage situations, gas leaks and chemical or biological warfare.

Cadet Kyle Vincent, a senior majoring in finance and the wing commander of the cadet detachment, helped plan the scenarios chosen for the exercise.

"An attack or biological attack that allows the cadets to think on their feet and react to the changing environments, so they can protect not only themselves but their fellow cadets, and the community around them," Vincent said. "This is not a typical day-to-day scenario."

The exercise aims to give freshmen and sophomore cadets the opportunity to test their problem solving skills and step into leadership roles when military leaders are injured or are unable to command. The cadets' skills in Self Aid and Buddy Care, procedures for rendering first aid, are also evaluated as part of the exercise.

NMSU's AFROTC coordinated the event with campus police and fire departments as well as the university's theatre arts department.

For more information contact the AFROTC at 575-646-2136.