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Ex Blue Light: training for the worst

By 1lt. Kristoffer Egeberg
First published in
SFOR Informer #99, October 25, 2000

Bos Petrovac- The emergency call is put through on the VHF. "Traffic accident at the old Bos platoon-house". An SFOR truck transporting unexploded ordnance (UXO) has been involved in an accident. No one knows how many injured. Exercise Blue Light has begun. The scenario is bad and, in reality highly unlikely given the security regulations applied when SFOR moves UXO - but the Canadian troops want their training put fully to the test.
First on the scene were Canadian MP's Cpl. Lamont French and Cpl. Darren Fox from Camp Mapleleaf in Zgon. After dealing with "local press" who had already arrived, French started the difficult task of securing the scene of the accident.
"Stay inside the bus! Do not step on the ground"
With mines and grenades scattered all around, he feared the consequence if someone should make a bad move in a desperate attempt to save themselves.
From the truck, screams of pain came as a reply. "I can't see, I can't breath". Although tempted, French was not risking further casualties crossing the minefield.
In the meantime, Fox radioed in vital information to the Canadian Quick Reaction Force (QRF), as they rolled in with their Bison armoured personnel carriers.
Then engineers were quickly dispatched, starting the dangerous work clearing a path to the injured. Crawling in the mud, Cpl. Robby Farhat and Sapper Ben Lees started the clearing, guided by the watchful eyes of Sgt. Renald Morneau. Sapper Karine Tourigny transferred messages back and forth to the safe-zone, not risking radio equipment setting off any mines. As the vehicles were reached, the injured personnel was helped or carried out one by one by the soldiers of the QRF. The medics had their skills put to a test, treating casualties with injuries as distinct as a broken nose, facial burns and blocked windpipes.
15 injured inn all. A difficult task for even the very best of rescue-personnel.
"The Blue Light exercise is a standard mass evacuation exercise mandatory for all new contingents", says Capt. Barry Bartlett. He is an operations officer in the Canadian battle group, and in charge of the exercise. "The recovery team, medical team, engineers, and riflemen, all benefit from this exercise. As for the battle group communications, they also get good training" he said.
"We must be prepared to deal with casualties of a massive nature, and give the medical care needed. Therefore we must rehearse."

Related links:
Nations of SFOR: Canada
Training and Exercises