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NEWS | Jan. 25, 2024

Exercise on Humphreys airfield tests emergency responders

By Jeff Nagan, USAG Humphreys

On the ice-cold tarmac of Camp Humphreys’ Desiderio Army Airfield, a CH-47 Chinook helicopter landed, while inside seven Soldiers staged themselves as mock victims of a crash, kicking off the second quarter pre-accident drill, Jan 23, 2024.

The call came out over the radio, and moments later, U.S. Army Garrison Humphreys emergency responders were en route to the scene, but since they were responding to an exercise, lights flashed but their sirens were quiet.

“Emergency response teams conduct individual training on a regular basis, but these events give us the opportunity to synchronize our training in a complect collective exercise,” said U.S. Army Chief Warrant Officer 2 Ryan Chambers, airfield safety officer.

To provide added realism, the exercise coordinators used smoke machines. Inside the helicopter, the mock victims feigned injury, crying for help as the firetrucks closed in on the scene. The firefighters mobilized, with a team grabbing the water line, while others assessed the situation and readied a triage area, complete with stretchers.

“Realism is absolutely vital for this type of event,” said Chambers, who hails from Parker, Colo. “These exercises allow us to introduce new scenarios to try to diversify and maximize the training as much as possible for all players involved.”

Once the exercise evaluators determined that the firefighters’ actions would have extinguished any fire, had there actually been one, the emergency personnel moved to the helicopter to evacuate the Soldiers. Each of the Soldiers had instructions detailing their mock injuries, but the emergency responders had to determine what was wrong and the proper way to safely remove them from the aircraft. While some could walk, other Soldiers had to pretend they had significant injuries, including broken bones and internal bleeding, forcing the emergency medical technicians to employ back and neck braces before carrying mock patients to the triage area.

“These exercises give us an opportunity to validate and refine our current procedures to make sure that we’re the most effective and efficient as possible to respond to any real-world incident,” said Chambers.

Although several days had gone into preparing the scenario, the exercise was over in less than an hour. In just a few months, the airfield safety team will be back to the drawing board creating another scenario to test Camp Humphreys’ ability to respond to an airfield emergency.

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