Behind the scenes at VA-TF1 training – overnight fright

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So, I’ll admit, as a city girl, I’ve never been camping. Don’t be so surprised. Photojournalist Kurt Brooks and I bought gear for our 4 day/ 3 night embed trip including a sleeping bag, pillow, and assorted clothes I’d need. Let me be clear, he needed next to nothing, I needed it all. The temperature in Perry, Georgia was down to the 40s. And I thought how the heck is this going to work. I made my way to the porta-potty to change into sweatpants and a fleece shirt. On my way, I saw a “vanity” compete with 2 sinks and 2 mirrors the crew had set up. Problem is the water wasn’t running yet so I washed my face with bottled water as best I could, took out my contacts and headed to our tent.

Any makeup you see on my face this week on TV was expertly applied at 6 am Monday morning. Thankfully, sunglasses and a hard hat hide a multitude of sins. There will be no shower today, but there was coffee. And water. And then I dug into the provisions I bought at Walmart: mini packages of peanut butter, Fiber One bars, and almonds. Breakfast this morning consisted of Nilla Wafers dipped in peanut butter. Believe me, if I could find a fruit or vegetable within the confines of the Guardian Center, I’d be thrilled.

I actually fell asleep quite easily, as Kurt had suspected. That’s what a 15 hour day will do. My 3 am wake up call came quickly. We went along with the blue team to an earthquake rescue in an office building, complete with live victims and mannequins. It’s a 12 hour exercise. Right now, it’s 10:22am and I’ve already worked about a full day. But, our day has just begun because as you know there are 24 hours in a day. We have a super-top-secret 11 am exercise – and then a 10 pm also super-duper- secret mission.

I am really enjoying this. Why? Because it’s important journalism. These men and women are highly trained and highly skilled and what they do saves lives. I am honored to tell their story.

Sleep? As Kurt says, we’ll sleep when we’re dead.

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