By Mr. Stephen Standifird (Leonard Wood)March 19, 2015
An emergency call came into the Forney Control Tower March 11. A UA-60 Blackhawk helicopter was coming in for a hard, controlled landing near Forney Field Drop Zone.
Within 12 minutes, the first responders from the airfield's Fire Station 2 had received the call and were approaching the downed helicopter.
The scenario was just a drill, but provided Fort Leonard Wood organizations involved an opportunity to test reaction time and readiness.
"This is the most likely scenario," said Guy Johnson, Fire and Emergency Services, and the incident commander for the exercise. "It is something that could definitely happen here."
The main purpose for the exercise was to fulfill a yearly requirement for the airfield, the National Guard and to test the primary and secondary crash-alarm systems on Fort Leonard Wood, said Tim Voss, Fort Leonard Wood Flight Operations safety officer.
The Fire and Emergency Services weren't the primary player, but saw it as an opportunity for more training, said Buddy Glover, assistant fire chief, Fire and Emergency Services.
"This fulfills a National Guard requirement, but they can't do this without us," Glover said. "We participate, because this is an annual accident-response exercise for the National Guard, and we would respond to support this type of incident."
Supporting these types of exercises is good training for the fire department, said Johnson.
"These types of exercises are very important for us to stay proficient, because we are on an active airfield," Johnson said. "We get to test our capabilities and our vehicle capabilities."
The response time of under 12 minutes was good, given the terrain the vehicles had to navigate as Voss called the entire landing zone area a mess.
"We learned a lot about responding to a very remote site," he said. "The drop zone was a big mud pit."
Following the exercise, the Fire and Emergency Services crew that responded and participated reflected on what was good and what needs to be adjusted. Some of the crew talked about teamwork. One talked about staying proficient. Johnson added that it was just one more thing they have experienced in training.
"We are going to continue to perfect whatever we are doing," he said.
For Voss, he said he is looking forward to the next exercise and keeping the installation and the first responders ready if they were called upon to react.
"You never know when an accident will happen," he said. "We just try to train the best we can."