BY DARRYL SMITH
The scene was one we have all witnessed on television and in newspapers. A pile of debris, roughly shaped like a building, crawling with shiny red, orange, and blue hard hats. Encircled by various emergency vehicles, from bright red fire trucks to olive green or desert tan military equipment. The continuous drone of diesel engines drowns out all but the loudest screams.
Tuesday morning, June 11, this scenario played out right here in Bloomington. The Phi Kappa Psi fraternity house on North Jordan Avenue became the site of a tragedy involving as many as 60 young men inside when an EF5 tornado destroyed it early that morning.
Fortunately, this was just a simulation, a three-day training exercise for a multi-organization disaster response team under the name United Front II. Local first responders in the form of the Bloomington Fire Department were first on scene and would work for the next three days as search and rescue and to ensure the structural integrity of what remained of rooms and hallways by designing, building, and installing support systems. Bloomington Fire Department crews worked day and night to rescue and recover the missing, wounded, and deceased, side by side with Indiana National Guard Airmen and Soldiers, search-and-rescue personnel from the Israel Home Front Command, who had traveled here for joint training, and the Marine Corps Chemical Biological Incident Response Force.