The Flaherty Fire Department conducts a practice rescue operation at the Godman Field air traffic control tower Aug. 25, 2021.
The Flaherty Fire Department conducts a practice rescue operation at the Godman Field air traffic control tower Aug. 25, 2021. (Photo Credit: Charlie Leffler, Fort Knox Visual Information) VIEW ORIGINAL

FORT KNOX, Ky. – First responders from Fort Knox and its surrounding communities trained together on Aug. 25 as part of an emergency preparedness exercise held here Aug. 24 to 26.

The goal was to simulate the types of situations that would arise following a tornado on post and then successfully coordinate rescue efforts. During the exercise, installation leaders, directorates, and first responders worked together on various scenarios set up at different locations across post.

Members of Fort Knox Multi-agency Coordination Group oversee operations during an emergency preparedness exercise Aug. 25, 2021. Multiple crisis incidents were simulated simultaneously to test coordination efforts between multiple agencies.
Members of Fort Knox Multi-agency Coordination Group oversee operations during an emergency preparedness exercise Aug. 25, 2021. Multiple crisis incidents were simulated simultaneously to test coordination efforts between multiple agencies. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

According to Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security plans specialist Colin Lineberger, exercises like this are key for preparing for a real world crisis.

“We were able to identify some gaps in some of our existing plans and processes, which is the entire point of the exercise,” said Lineberger. “If a real world situation were to occur on the installation, those gaps are filled.”

Lineberger said several different simulated incidents were executed simultaneously Wednesday including a multi-vehicle accident, damaged buildings with people injured inside, and the rescue of two air traffic controllers trapped inside the tower at Godman Airfield. Additionally, the exercise incorporated other impacts such as damage to Brandenburg gate forcing its closure and downed power lines.

The Radcliff Fire Department joined Fort Knox responders in practicing a rescue operation during an emergency exercise Aug. 25, 2021.
1 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – The Radcliff Fire Department joined Fort Knox responders in practicing a rescue operation during an emergency exercise Aug. 25, 2021. (Photo Credit: Jenn DeHaan, Fort Knox News) VIEW ORIGINAL
A Fort Knox firefighter works to secure the scene of a simulated building collapse during an emergency exercise Aug. 25, 2021.
2 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – A Fort Knox firefighter works to secure the scene of a simulated building collapse during an emergency exercise Aug. 25, 2021. (Photo Credit: Jenn DeHaan, Fort Knox News) VIEW ORIGINAL

There’s a clear purpose using real-life events to test our capabilities, said Lineberger.

“The main benefit is preparedness,” said Lineberger. “Just like any training event, you want to train to fight. That’s kind of the mantra of the military. Injecting realism in an exercise like this, and kind of straining the system and have multiple incidents going on concurrently is a good thing.”

Both the Radcliff and Flaherty fire departments aided in the rescue efforts during the exercise. Radcliff mayor J.J. Duvall was on hand to watch his firefighters work together with Fort Knox firefighters at the scene of a staged car accident. He said it was good to see them collectively in action.

“For many years we’ve always had a mutual aid agreement between our communities,” said Duvall. “We depend on each other for support; not only from our first responders but from the entire community.”

Radcliff mayor J.J. Duvall watches as city firefighters work alongside Fort Knox responders at the scene of a simulated multi-vehicle accident Aug. 25, 2021.
Radcliff mayor J.J. Duvall watches as city firefighters work alongside Fort Knox responders at the scene of a simulated multi-vehicle accident Aug. 25, 2021. (Photo Credit: Jenn DeHaan, Fort Knox News) VIEW ORIGINAL

Duvall echoed Lineberger, saying the shared preparedness is beneficial for all involved.

“You never know when a scenario is going to happen in the community,” said Duvall, “so [it’s about] being prepared just like Soldiers training here at Fort Knox; being ready when something like this comes up and understanding what each other’s roles are.

“I think the more training we can do, the better it is for both communities.”

Lineberger said the entire intent of the exercise was to ultimately facilitate continuous improvement. He explained this week’s event was overdue.

“It’s been a long time since we’ve done an exercise of this scale because of COVID,” said Lineberger. “This one was in preparation for a massive, full-scale exercise in September of 2022 – so this was our ‘crawl-walk-run’ approach to getting ready for that.”

Lineberger said though he thought the team performed well, he’s confident they will be even better during the next exercise or real-world crisis.

“It really helped us plan and evaluate our command and control of the incidents,” said Lineberger. “I think we’re in a good place and now after this, we’re going to be in an even better place.”

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Editor’s note: Additional photos of the emergency preparedness exercise are available to view on the Fort Knox Flickr page.