CAMP ZAMA, Japan (July 17, 2012) -- Rescue workers responded Monday to a mock scenario here, involving a downed aircraft and several injured personnel on the first day of a full-scale exercise, the first of its kind to be held on the installation.

The simulated emergency included participation from U.S. Army organizations such as the 78th Aviation Battalion and Directorate of Emergency Services, and neighboring Japanese fire departments from Zama and Sagamihara cities.

Just before 1 p.m., firefighters and ambulance crews were called to Camp Zama's Kastner Airfield, where a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter was parked on the runway. Simulated smoke spewed from under the aircraft's carriage, while training dummies and live role-players awaited rescue from inside the cockpit and passenger cab.

Firefighters first had to extinguish the "blaze" and deem the crash site safe before emergency medical technicians could move in and evacuate the "injured" personnel and treat their wounds. This combination of elements was meant to test the participants' response to a complex disaster, said Ransome Bush, the emergency manager for G-3/5/7 at U.S. Army Garrison Japan.

"The scenario teaches cohesion, equipment that is used, procedures that are followed, and techniques we can share across lines so that we can learn from each other and improve the way that we respond [to emergencies] that happen on Camp Zama," said Bush.

Once the accident victims were evacuated, they were taken to a triage area. They each wore cards that stated the extent of their injuries, which dictated the treatment they were administered. One role-player had a bandage applied to his arm and a brace placed around his neck before being moved from triage on a stretcher.

Ambulances from the Sagamihara Fire Department are dispatched to the U.S. Army's nearby Sagami General Depot about 80 times per year, said firefighter Kazuyuki Kodama. The experience gained from taking part in Monday's scenario was therefore beneficial for his entire crew, he said.

"Fortunately, we haven't received any emergency requests related to fires lately," said Kodama. "However, the risk of various disaster occurrences does exist, so I think an exercise like this is very important."

The multi-day exercise, which will conclude July 19, is meant to evaluate the installation's comprehensive response to a variety of hazardous and disaster scenarios. Other scheduled scenarios will include an earthquake, a hostage situation, and a hazardous material spill.

"From what I have observed so far, it has been a very professional response from all of the players who are participating, and it seems to be going really well," said Bush.

Page last updated Tue July 17th, 2012 at 08:03