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NEWS | Aug. 21, 2019

Soldiers, Airmen work together to save lives during exercise

By Tech. Sgt. Robert Hicks 633d Air Base Wing Public Affairs

Service members assigned to Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, worked alongside one another to participate in a downed aircraft crash exercise at Felker Army Airfield, Aug. 13, 2019. 

Soldiers and Airmen from the 633d Air Base Wing and Soldiers from the U.S. Army Medical Department Activity responded to a simulated CH-47 Chinook helicopter crash, where they executed procedures geared toward first responders.

“Everything was executed well,” said Dustin Campbell, 633d ABW inspection team manager and exercise planner. “When we participate in exercises like this the biggest hurdle we face is communication. It’s a crucial element that we focus on, and always work to improve upon.”

The teams trained on patient extraction, transportation and care. Hazardous clean-up, along with other scenarios, were also part of the training.

“Throughout the exercise we were able to show off our capabilities on how we respond and highlight each distinct role that each of us plays in these kinds of scenarios,” said Noah Paxton, 733d Civil Engineer Division firefighter. “It takes a lot of coordination when we’re dealing with emergency medical services, (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) and the Environmental Protection Agency, so the more exercises we participate in to prepare for these scenarios, the more confident each of us will be in real-world situations.”

Langley Air Force Base and Fort Eustis conducts aircraft crash exercises annually to ensure everyone is prepared for the worst.

“We train on aircraft basics aggressively here,” Paxton said. “We cover the CH-53 Sea Stallion, the UH-60 Black Hawk and the Beechcraft C-12 Huron. Felker Army Airfield is also a divert location, so we study various aircrafts’ shut-down procedures, so even if we don’t see those aircraft here regularly, if we get that emergency call we’re ready to go at a moment’s notice.”

According to Campbell the inspectors and observers thought highly of the participants throughout the training.

“The first responder’s performance instilled more confidence in those of us observing their tactics,” Campbell said. “The fire department first responders showed up on the scene extremely quick, and did a lot of really good work in timely manner. They were able to get all the patients transported, and demonstrate the abilities of the fire department. It was an outstanding response, and it was phenomenal to watch them expertly do their jobs.”