28-07-2006 – Austrian Army
Exercise 1 - The evacuation happened about 7AM & I am ever grateful for the ability to sleep at least 6 hours! I think the only reason that we were not awakened in the middle of the night is because it was raining. Could there be a glimmer of warmth in those military hearts?? Once we heard the first boom (of a bomb) it was time to get motivated for the evacuation. (my first thought was, dammit...can't they bomb us later...) I did have all my gear ready (did anyone say OCD??) and because it was really cold, I was wearing all my clothes including my army jacket and blue vest. I was using the army pants as a pillow, so I quickly put them on, added the shrapnel vest and helmet and then my backpack and one radio. While we were standing there ready for the final notice to vacate the bunker I smelled fire. I told “the current commander” that we will probably have to put out a fire on the way out. She specified one of the guys (I won’t name names) to be the first one out and to grab the extinguisher along the way so he could put out the fire, she explained this to him and even asked for acknowledgement of the situation which he then nodded his head (cultural differences aside, nodding up and down in his country means "yes" ). We got the notice and she told him to go first. He promptly ran out of the bunker straight past the extinguisher. I was immediately pissed off and grabbed it on my way out(because of course, no one else took responsibility). I ran out and in my stress, I forgot to pound the top button after pulling out the pin on the extinguisher. One of the military guys did it for me and I was fuming at that point, partly at myself and partly at the incapability of some of the guys in this program! I got over it slowly as I made my way DOWN the stupid hill this time. We jogged for a short time, which seemed like miles carrying the weight of the clothing, backpack and the radio.
Once down the hill we were put in army vehicles and driven back up the hill to our bunkers. We then loaded up the rest of our stuff and large backpacks into vehicles and were driven back down the hill to the army headquarters for breakfast and showers. After both, we went into a classroom for the presentation/class on Austrian Forces Disaster Relief Unit and how deployment takes only a couple days from the time of the disaster to the Unit arriving at their destination. Greatly informative! We then had lunch and then attended a class on Hostage Situation and Interrogation. An interrogation was simulated using a couple students. Even though it was in a classroom with the group giggling at times, my emotions were reeling and at times I felt like it was happening to me.
After leaving the military base I felt sad that it was over…I had learned so much in just 2 days, I couldn’t help thinking of what I could do in a week…a month…or more. Not that I want to go out and join the army or anything of course (I would make a good soldier if there wasn't so many rules...) I definitely want more hands-on training in this area.