First responders practice crisis management in plane crash simulation
July 31, 2010
FORT A.P. HILL, Va. - More than 50 personnel from Joint Task Force - National Scout Jamboree completed an intensive plane crash response exercise July 24 in preparation for the Boy Scouts of America 2010 National Scout Jamboree.
The exercise began with a simulated aircraft crash along the Army airborne assault strip on the western end of the installation. Simulated post residents reported sightings to local emergency responders, who were tasked with rapid response and recovery operations.
However, several critical developments in the situation provided realistic challenges to response personnel. Among the base populace that observed the "crash" was a local civilian broadcast journalist, portrayed by Army Capt. Marcus Byrne, a public affairs officer with the 14th Public Affairs Detachment.
"There's a lot more to managing these types of scenarios than just rushing out to save lives," said Stephen Fogler, senior defense analyst at Standing Joint Force Headquarters, U.S. Northern Command. "The Jamboree will bring more than 150,000 people on post so we need to be able to handle these situations should they occur."
The "civilian reporter," who was credentialed but unaccompanied, rushed with a videographer to the scene, where he discovered the simulated "plane" - a large sport utility vehicle - occupied by an unconscious pilot. The reporter began a live broadcast report as responders arrived, highlighting the presence of an unknown white powder on the vehicle and making allusions to the possibility of a terrorist attack.
Following the end of the exercise, Byrne provided feedback to law enforcement officials about their performance in the scenario and reinforced the importance of media training.
While each facet of exercise provided a different set of challenges, the most important training element learned by participants is working together under pressure, Fogler said. The task force consisted of a combination of active duty, reserve and National Guard service members from all branches of the military.
"The exercise tests how dispatch teams communicate to command and control personnel," he said. "It also showcases the significance of training joint-service personnel to handle media members on base, particularly useful in large-scale events like the Jamboree."