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Andersen, GovGuam, NBG conduct joint exercise

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Whitney Tucker
  • 36th Wing Public Affairs
Exercise evaluators looked on as the sound of sirens shattered the morning calm and the exercise casualty count climbed during an aircraft incident scenario on the flightline here Jan. 30.

The ability of Andersen Airmen to respond to an emergency, care for injured personnel and transport them to a secure location was put to the test when a simulated C-17 Globemaster III fell from the sky causing chaos and destruction for those on the ground.

Adding to the pressure, the exercise was the first in Andersen history to include off-base, and sister service elements and assets.

"We were looking for an opportunity to not only test the base response capabilities, but also incorporate some elements of the Government of Guam and Naval Base Guam," said Lt. Col. William Percival, 36th Wing Safety chief. "Based on those requirements, we created a mass casualty scenario simulating more than 100 people involved with 60 survivors."

Priority No. 1 for any first responder is to seek out signs of life and try to preserve it at any cost. With dozens of roll-players littering the scene, firefighters and medical personnel had to exercise vigilance and situational awareness to determine the best course of action.

"The objective in this particular exercise was to totally overtax both Andersen and Guam's systems, and I think we succeeded," Colonel Percival said. "I expected to see mass chaos first, and then observe how the response teams decided to mitigate that and save lives. They responded admirably."

The exercise was also unique because not only did Airmen carry out emergency response procedures, they also completed the initial steps for recovery and, for the first time, provided the necessary products to initiate a safety investigation board.

"Normally we initiate an investigation board, but we only go through the motions," Colonel Percival said. "In this case, we developed products that would be required for investigation and put them out through the base so investigators would have to go collect that evidence and know who to talk to and how to go about it."

"After collecting, preserving and recording evidence, the ISB or Interim Safety Boardpresented their findings to the nominal Safety Investigation Board president, 36th Wing commander, Brig. Gen. John Doucette," he continued. "They did an exceptional job and their overall professionalism was astounding."

With large-scale flying exercise Cope North 12-1 rapidly approaching, it is paramount that emergency response personnel both on and off-base be able to react to an aircraft incident with speed and precision. Joint exercises enable Andersen and Government of Guam personnel to hone these vital skills and sharpen critical life-saving abilities.

"Coming together during this exercise helped us to further relationships with military personnel on Guam," said Edward Artero, Guam Fire Department Fire Lt.

"It really opened our eyes to see the other layer of support that goes on behind the scenes while the fire chief and firefighters are on scene," he continued. "We were able to develop a better understanding of how our military counterparts operate and communicate during a crisis situation. It was a valuable experience and we took away a lot."