Wednesday, September 02, 2009


ENDEX=End of Exercise

Never has an acronym brought such feelings of jubilant glee/happiness/cease of swearing/genuine relief. The past three days have been horrible. The base was doing an "exercise." This was to simulate attacks on the base and since North Korea are our naughty neighbors in this neck of the world the attacks were assumed "dirty" until proven otherwise. This is practice for the graded exercise by the Air Force.

What does this mean? It means I was not a dentist these past few days rather I was in charge of the Triage Team. We started out in MOPP2. This entails wearing over boots/pants/coat/very heavy helmet/even heavier protective vest and carrying the gas mask and gloves. Doesn't sound too bad, and it wasn't at first. The first alarm came and we had to go into MOPP 4. This added the gloves and the gas mask and ducking for cover. (Thank you Elementary School Earthquake drills for the preperation!) Still, not horrible. It lasted about 30 minutes and by that time I was in the middle of a panic attack and feeling very claustrophobic. But I survived. My friend, who "played" in the last exercise, said the longest they were ever kept in MOPP4 was about a half hour or so.

Then a few hours later we hear the next alarm and go back into MOPP4. Only this time the nausea hits me at about 90 minutes! We were in it for about two hours, shattering the last record! It was absolutely miserable.

Can't imagine it?

Let me illustrate the progression: It starts with an uncomfortable cement floor, lying down, trying to fall asleep but worrying about not being able to breath while asleep in a respirator, then about 4o minutes the gas mask feels like it is constricting your head and tearing into your ear, at times the nose itches but can't be scratched, the helmets weight begins to increase combining with the constriction to give the MOPP headache, the leaded vest weighs down on the shoulders increasing the headache, sweat soaks into everything, then Triage team is activated to go triage casualties and you stand up and get hit by nausea (yes these are all symptoms of heat exhaustion). Then you drink some water from the gas mask tube attachment and it takes like rotten plastic... You get the idea. This happened 3 or 4 times each day. Today, day 3, everyone cringed every time there was an overhead page, fearing the dreaded words, Alarm Blue MOPP4!

I survived the attacks and the exercises and did well as the Triage Team Chief. And am a much better person for enduring it. Yeah Whatever! I'm glad to be done and hope to never play this game again. I'm glad I'm not in Korea where they do this much more often. Their was much rejoicing when Endex was called.



mama bear said...

So what happens if you have to puke?

mr. underhill said...

Um, wow! That sounds absolutely miserable. Thanks for taking one for the team.

Bartimaeus said...

It gets real messy mama bear.

Exercise: You take your mask off behind closed doors.

Real World: You die...