Muscatatuck Urban Training Center in Jennings County will again host a federal emergency response exercise designed to train federal emergency response teams from across the United States.

Between April 16 and May 14, more than 5,000 emergency response personnel will report to the training center near Butlerville to participate in a training operation called Guardian Response.

“Our town is looking forward to having the troops here again. They are always welcome here. They are a vital part of our economy, the world community and our own community,” North Vernon Mayor Mike Ochs said.

Most of the personnel participating in the exercise will be stationed at the Jennings County Fairgrounds and North Vernon Airport’s Contingency Operating Base Panther. Participants also will be commuting to the exercise from Camp Atterbury near Edinburgh, said Master Sgt. Brad Staggs, Atterbury-Muscatatuck spokesman.

“We’re very proud to see this exercise return to the Atterbury-Muscatatuck Complex. There is no better location in the country to conduct this exercise,” Maj. Gen. Courtney Carr, adjutant general of the Indiana National Guard, said. “Guardian Response brings not only soldiers but civilian emergency responders from across the country to the Jennings County area for nearly a month of very important training that can and has been used to help save the lives of our friends and neighbors.”

Because MUTC was once a large residential hospital complete with dormitory buildings, schools, churches, medical facilities, homes, stores and utility buildings, the environment is a natural setting for an urban training exercise. During the Guardian Response exercise, MUTC will replicate a community struck by a catastrophic event.

In order to create a realistic training environment, destroyed cars, damaged mobile homes and debris will be strewn around Muscatatuck as they would be during a real disaster. Smoke machines will be used sporadically throughout the exercise to create the effect of a burning city. For safety reasons, roads into and out of the training areas will be blocked to civilian traffic, Staggs said.

The local community will see a marked increase in traffic around the fairgrounds, the airport and Muscatatuck during the exercise, Staggs said. As aircraft from the North Vernon Airport will play an important part in the exercise operations, people should expect to see and hear an increase in air traffic during daylight hours.

Because of the exercise, Brush Creek Reservoir will be closed to civilian boating and fishing April 13 to May 21.

From April 16 through May 14, only school buses, large farm machinery and emergency vehicles will be allowed to drive through MUTC during the exercise. Those vehicles will be escorted through Muscatatuck by security from the front to the rear gates, Staggs said.

Anyone driving one of those vehicles should arrange for a security escort ahead of time by calling the MUTC Fire Desk at 812-458-8780.