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NEWS | March 23, 2011

JB CHS tests emergency response for upcoming expo

By Airman 1st Class Jared Trimarchi Joint Base Charleston Public Affairs

Team Charleston participated in a mandatory major accident response exercise March 22, at Joint Base Charleston - Air Base, in preparation for the upcoming Air Expo April 9.

The MARE tested the response and capabilities of base emergency personnel during a simulated aircraft mishap when two airplanes clipped wings and collided.

"The exercise was a joint effort between JB CHS and local community first responders," said David Hunt, 628th Air Base Wing deputy inspector general and exercise team chief. "Our goal was to practice for the air show to ensure we are prepared to handle any incidents."

The morning began with a table top discussion where all of the first responders and commanders from their units talked through different scenarios.

"During the table top we discussed even the smallest details, ranging from somebody's vehicle being disabled or a lost child, to responding to a major aircraft incident," Mr. Hunt said. "When you get a 100,000 people together, those things might happen and we need to be prepared."

The afternoon brought a hands-on approach as the simulated scenario kicked in. In the scenario an aircraft crashed on the flight line, causing numerous injuries. Inflatable dummies and 36 live role players with various injuries assumed positions on the flightline. Emergency personnel and first response units were quickly on scene.

"We use the role players because it challenges all of our first responders as well as our commanders to deal with different situations," Mr. Hunt said. "The role players allowed us to make the exercise more realistic and as a consequence a much better test of our response procedures."

Lt. Col. Pamela Smith, 628th Aerospace Medical Squadron commander, said the exercise provided training that goes beyond the upcoming air show.

"This gets us out from our normal day-to-day routine in the clinic," she said. "When we participate in these drills it hones our disaster preparedness skills. We also do these drills on a monthly basis because this is what we are going to be doing at deployed locations. We are trained to handle any type of disaster, such as a plane crash or even a pile-up of cars right outside our gate."

According to Mr. Hunt, the exercise was a success and showcased the base's ability to handle any given situation.

"Our first responders and their civilian counterparts worked well together," he said. "Our command and control functions activated to provide oversight to the incident and we were able to test our communications and response procedures and discovered areas where we can improve. Most importantly we were able to test and adjust our plans for handling incidents that could occur during the upcoming Air Expo."

"We hope that the Charleston community has a great day at the Air Expo and we want them to know we are prepared to handle anything that can happen," he said. "We can't wait to have them out here and enjoying a great day with us."