Exercise evaluates emergency response
By TSgt. Caycee Cook, 169th FW/PA
/ Published February 22, 2012
January 31, 2012 -- McEntire personnel conducted a joint Major Aircraft Response Exercise Jan. 31, the first of its scale for the base. The scenario was created specific to the reality of having dual airframes on the base, the F-16 fighter jet and a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter, and the possibility that an incident could occur involving both. Base-wide participation was essential, as most sections had a role to play throughout the scenario.
"It got us out of our element; normally every exercise is conducted in the hangar around everything that is already familiar. It was real good to do a 'no kidding' responce to an unfamiliar area," says MSgt. Shannon Mines, team chief of the Crash Damage or Disabled Aircraft Recovery program at McEntire.
The scenario, a jet and helicopter collide on base, caused every section that would respond to such an emergency to carry out their response actions.
Mines said, "The wing commander requested an outside agency come in and audit a base-wide crash response involving the Air and the Army. The audit, which spanned a two-month period, was concluded by initiating the MARE at the auditor's request." Mines built the script for the incident based on the commander's intent and the auditor's input.
According to audit feedback, the exercise kicked-off smoothly with timely notification from Command Post to the wing commander within three minutes and the fire department's rescue responders arriving on scene within seven minutes.
Firefighter Justin McKeown was one of the first responders. He said, "With only hearing an overview of the training, I was unsure of the fire department's role in the exercise. However, once on scene, we treated the exercise like we would any training ... with a purpose and a goal.
"I believe this training was long overdue but benefited the fire department in that this scenario, involving two different types of aircraft, could actually happen. We worked as a team to accomplish the mission and that is the best training scenario one could ask for, coming together as one unit to accomplish what we are trained to do."
Air Force auditor Daisy Bradley said, "Overall, the first responders and CDDAR team did an outstanding job."
Other sections that played a role in the exercise included Security Forces, Munitions and Weapons, Hydrazine Response Team, Maintenance Operations Control, Bioenvironmental, Motor Pool, Petroleum Oil and Lubricants, Aerospace Ground Equipment, Safety and Army Aviation support.
While there were areas that need improvement, the overall synopsis from the day proved the training to be necessary.
Mines said, "We learned a lot. There were some short falls that we discovered through the process.
"Normally, the exercise would only involve me and my team. It was nice having the other base agencies involved and learning by working with them and their requirements for a scenario like this."
Bradley said, "We were very pleased with the results of the exercise. It served its purpose of identifying improvements we can complete to make our joint aircraft mishap response and crash recovery processes the best they can possibly be.
"This joint exercise was one of the first of its kind, and should be established as the standard for joint exercises at joint bases everywhere."