May 6, 2010

VDF's Lafayette Brigade conducts spring training exercise

By Sgt. 1st Class A.J. Coyne
Virginia Guard Public Affairs

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — More than 50 members of the Virginia Defense Force were on hand at the State Military Reservation at Camp Pendleton April 30 to May 2 for the Lafayette Brigade’s spring field training exercise.

The goals of the training were to conduct individual and unit-level training and then put the training to the test with a simulated exercise, according to Maj. Ron Shirey, the executive officer of the Norfolk- based Lafayette Brigade. The brigade consists of the Onancock-based 21st Battalion and the Hampton-based 22nd Battalion.

The unit members spent Friday and part of Saturday morning training on various individual and unit tasks. They were then faced with an exercise that simulated a massive storm striking Virginia. The VDF members had to react and respond as if they would in a real-world scenario.

Teams were sent out to inspect the damage from the storm and then report back to commanders on the situation. They also had to decide whether to provide assistance to those who needed it, remove those personnel, or call back to headquarters for more help.  

“This training involved everyone from our newest recruits to veterans,” Shirey said. “This really shows them what to expect when the governor calls us up.”

While the VDF members were at SMR conducting their training, a real-world event tested their medical response and showed both their abilities and their value.

On Saturday morning, Sgt. 1st Class Thomas Hayman, the chief medical noncommissioned officer for the Lafayette Brigade and acting sergeant major for the 22nd Battalion, had just given a class on patient assessment and preventing and treating heat casualties when a student from Commonwealth ChalleNGe suffered a heat injury while exercising in the Virginia sun.

Hayman, a medic and emergency medical technician with over 30 years of experience, gathered several of his fellow VDF members and they provided triage to the student. They were able to get his core body temperature down before the ambulance arrived to transport him to a hospital.

“Those I taught thanked me for training them so they could help save someone’s life,” Hayman said. “They were all able to step up when they were needed and help and that’s what the VDF is all about.”

Shirey described the training exercise as steps one and two of a three-step process that culminates with a large-scale exercise for the entire VDF in the fall. 

“We’re all volunteers out here and we just want to be ready to help Virginians if they need it,” Shirey said. “Everyone was very excited about the training and are ready to come back. They’re really committed and that’s beneficial to Virginia as a whole.”

Click HERE to return to the top of the page ~ Click HERE to return to the news directory