By Mr. Stephen Standifird (Leonard Wood)May 19, 2016
A fuel truck drives toward the airfield like it does multiple times a month. This time, the tank cracks and results in a large-fuel spill onto the tarmac. The driver is injured in the accident and is unconscious on the ground. The assistant driver is asked, "What now?"
That was the scenario Fort Leonard Wood's Directorate of Emergency Services, Forney Army Airfield and the Missouri National Guard used, as part of their annual emergency response requirements May 12.
"This exercise is part of checking our pre-accident plan to see that it flows properly and if everyone knows what they are supposed to be doing in the case of an accident," said Chief Warrant Officer 3 Shane Luke, safety officer and flight operations specialist, Company C, 1st Battalion, 106th Aviation Regiment, Missouri National Guard.
The National Guard requirement for this type of training is beneficial for the post to meet annual U.S. Army Installation Management Command requirements, said Lisa Stewart, chief of Plans and Operations, Directorate of Plans, Training and Mobilization.
"Airfield incidents and HAZMAT responses are two of the 30 areas we are required to test annually by IMCOM's guidance," she said. "This exercise focused on our HAZMAT response plan and actions. We analyze our response times and actions taken by the first responders to see if there are areas for improvement or if we are meeting the standards."
For DES, it is about keeping the first responders fresh, when it comes to training.
"One of our services is to provide HAZMAT response such as fuel spills or any other type of material incident. We train for it every year," said Buddy Glover, assistant fire chief, Fire and Emergency Services. "We train within a lot of different areas of HAZMAT, so this is one of those areas we make sure we are confident in."
All major components came together to complete the training scenario to the expectation required.
"In this instance, the teams responded well within the allowable time frame and took the correct actions to contain the scene and treat the casualties," Stewart said.
The simulated aspects of the scenario provided the first responders a chance to run through their checklist of what has to happen in an incident like this.
"It's hard to get a realistic feel in an exercise, because that imminent danger piece is taken out of it," Glover added. "So in training scenarios like this, it's more about the task at hand."
For the Guard, it was about testing the individual Soldiers involved.
"This is to see if they (the Soldiers) actually can carry out their training, when it goes down. Better to do that in a controlled environment rather than when an accident really happens," Luke said.
At the end of the scenario, Luke said, it is about learning what went well, what didn't go well and making the necessary adjustments.
"This was a good exercise that I think every body can take something from and, when something really does happen, hopefully it goes as smoothly if not smoother," he said.
Fort Leonard Wood is scheduled for a multi-day exercise in support of the Transportation Security Administration in June and a full-scale exercise planned for March of 2017.