German, American first responders test response

By Rick Scavetta
USAG Stuttgart Public Affairs

Photos by AFN Stuttgart

German firefighters hacked through window screens into smoke-filled apartments to rescue simulated victims during Stallion Shake 2019, U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart’s annual force protection exercise.

Held Sept. 23 at Robinson Barracks, the smoke and fire-based scenario offered a chance for garrison emergency services personnel to work closely with their German counterparts. The Saturday morning event was the culmination of a weeklong scenario that included joint patrols of Soldiers from the 52nd Signal Battalion and their Bundeswehr counterparts.

“At least once a year we come together with our host nation partners and try and prepare ourselves for what could be our worst possible day,” said Col. Jason Condrey, garrison commander. “On Robinson Barracks, our host nation responders arrive before we do.”

City firefighters from Feuerbach station were first on the scene. Just three miles from RB, they are designated to respond, said Karl Doersam, USAG-Stuttgart fire chief. An incident commander from Bad Canstatt station arrived, as did volunteer firefighters from Zazenhausen, Muenster and Hofen. At least four ambulances and German emergency physicians were also on scene.

“It’s always an opportunity they like to take,” Doersam said, who’s been participating in similar exercises for the past 15 years.

The morning began with a simulated fire in an apartment building at RB. Non-toxic smoke from a machine filled the stairwell of the building, not currently inhabited. Bright orange firetrucks with the word Feuerwehr rolled up. Firefighters evacuated 11 people. Medics then triaged and evacuated the victims – all U.S. military volunteers from U.S. European Command, U.S. Africa Command and local special operations units. Soldiers from AFN Stuttgart and staff members from the 7th Army Training Command documented the training.

The scenario crescendo involved three buildings with simulated fires. Garrison firefighters, dispatched from Stuttgart Army Air Field, arrived to assist.

Stallion Shake was the first exercise for Stuttgart’s new city fire chief, Dr. Georg Belge, who assumed his role on Sept. 1. Once the city fire chief in Heidelberg, Belge is no stranger to first response exercises with U.S. partners.

“He is familiar with German and American operations,” Doersam said. “He knows Stuttgart. From Heidelberg, he knows garrison procedures and fire services.”

Garrison firefighters, dispatched from SAAF arrived as a third simulated fire broke out. Belge and Condrey observed as their teams worked together. Afterward, they both took time to thank the firefighters for their efforts. The reward waited nearby, trays full of sandwiches and refreshments. After eating and relaxing, the teams networked and shared impressions of the training.

“They are always thankful that they get to train on such a scale, in a fenced in area, where there are not citizens walking around,” Doersam said. “Downtown you don’t have that.”