Capt. Greg Watson (left) and Capt. Tony Tabler, Robins Fire Department, recover a mock casualty from a simulated crash site on base April 12. The fire department worked alongside the 78th Medical Group during the joint exercise.(U.S. Air Force photo by Tommie Horton)
Staff Sgt. Jennifer Tomb, 78th Medical Group medical technician, attends to a crash survivor. As part of the exercise, casualties were promptly evaluated and sorted according to the seriousness of their injuries. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tommie Horton)
4/18/2014 - ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- To passersby April 12, the fire pit at Robins Air Force Base could easily have been mistaken for the set of a Hollywood disaster movie.
But the men and women who use this area perform their own stunts, all in the name of being totally prepared for calamity.
The 78th Medical Group and the Robins Fire Department participated in a large-scale training exercise which featured a scenario in which a C-17 slid off the runway, crashing into Bldg. 10 and catching fire.
Although disaster exercises involving emergency responders are conducted on base quarterly, the day's training marked the first collaboration between the medical group and fire department at the live-action fire site, according to Dan Adkins, 78th MDG medical readiness manager.
"We don't get to interact with the fire department very much," he said. "This exercise helped us establish a rapport."
The simulated accident included 23 casualties from both the plane and the building. Injuries ranged from minor wounds to fatalities. In all, more than 200 medical personnel - 19 responders, the rest portraying injured crewmen - and 17 firefighters with three fire trucks were actively involved in the training.
The action took place between the crash scene, where firefighters extinguished the burning plane and performed rescue operations, and the medical clinic, where "survivors" were treated for injuries and fuel contamination.
For this type of exercise, the fire department has gas lines running in and out of the mock aircraft which are ignited.
Given the realism of the training, fire department health and safety officers and an ambulance were on hand.
The event also had an audience - many of them children - who got to watch their family members in action.
Eric Danforth, Robins assistant fire chief, served as incident commander and said the exercise was a valuable learning experience.
"We learned some areas the fire department can improve and work on," said Danforth. "And the point of this is to foster that cooperation with a major incident. We're going to look at lessons learned and in the future, we will try this again and just get better every time."