Iraqi First Responders Conduct Shakedown Exercise
It was an ordinary
emergency readiness drill -- just part of the routine for
firefighters at airfields all over the world.
You know the deal... an aircraft is positioned as if it has
"crashed" or made an "emergency landing" and firefighters, rescue
crews, and paramedics are all put through their paces. What could
be special about that?
What's special is that it happened at Baghdad's New Al Muthana
Air Base, and was all-Iraqi, with the Iraqi Air Force providing one
of its C-130s and role players, and the Sather Fire Department
testing the training of its new crews.
In addition, medical and security elements participated.
This exercise builds on an earlier casualty exercise conducted
by the medical and security forces, but let the firemen --
including five newbies with only six weeks of training -- and Air
Force participate for the first time.
How important are these emergency exercises? Accident
investigators credited a similar exercise that had just been
completed in Sioux City, Iowa with great savings of life in the
1989 crash of United Flight 232, a DC-10. When the accident
happened, all the city's and airport's first responders knew
exactly what to do and how to work together.
After years of isolation, many Iraqis are eager to adopt best
practices from the rest of the world, even in something as
seemingly routine as airfield emergency services.
The firemen had to get into the C-130, and evacuate casualties.
They simulated extinguishing a fire inside the cargo plane, and
then hustled the "victims" out. First responders set up a triage
point and the "casualties" were prioritized and treated.
The exercise was a success on several levels. It not only
demonstrated that the Iraqi emergency crews could do their jobs, it
showed that they could conduct a complicated joint operation. Of
course, there's always room for some improvement -- which is why
participants expect to conduct many such exercises in the
(Aero-News salutes the staff of the Multinational Security
Transition Command Iraq's "Advisor" magazine, and particularly
photographer Capt. Greg Holmgren, USAF.)