By sgt. 1st Class Kevin P. BellJuly 28, 2016
Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. --Fire, rescue and medical personnel from across JBLM practiced their ability to respond and react to an aircraft incident that produced casualties at McChord Field Wednesday.
The aircraft scenario is part of exercise Cascade Helix, anti-terrorism and force protection exercise encompassing an aircraft mishap and a terrorist event at McChord. Both are tied directly to base preparations for the upcoming JBLM Airshow and Warrior Expo on Aug. 27-28.
Role players with a number of injuries of varying severity were scattered across the tarmac near a C-17 Globemaster III aircraft which, according to the scenario, skidded off the runway and into an area where civilians were watching the airshow.
A smoke generator billowed clouds of smoke and injured civilians cried and screamed for help as crews from the airfield fire station arrived within moments of notification and quickly got to work putting out the simulated fire and providing initial medical care to the injured.
"It's vitally important that we test our ability to react to situations like this so that if it does happen we can save as many lives as possible," said Anthony Wagner an exercise evaluator and controller and Director of Inspections for the 627th Airbase Group Inspector General which falls under the 62nd Airlift Wing.
"With the Airshow coming up in August we need to ensure we are ready to respond and if we do have any issues we identify them here during the exercise as opposed to during a real event where lives are on the line," Wagner added.
Once the injured were evaluated by fire and emergency personnel on the airfield they were then evacuated by ambulance to the emergency room at Madigan Army Medical Center about five miles away on the Lewis Main side of JBLM to test the staff's ability to manage a mass casualty event.
Upon arrival patients were triaged by medical staff to identify where they needed to go in the hospital.
"Unless you actually practice this and go through all the motions you can't work out the kinks and the problems and really see how well you are prepared and most importantly, how we can do better," said Capt. Josh Jacobson, the officer in charge of triaging patients on this day and Chief Resident at Madigan's Emergency Room.
Medical personnel performed their duties in a state of organized chaos as exercise evaluators watched, taking notes, all of which will be used to produce recommendations on how the team can do even better the next time, which is hopefully just another exercise.