TULSA, Okla. – Fire trucks and ambulances swarmed the Oklahoma Army National Guard’s Aviation Support Facility 2 in a training exercise May 12.
The first responders from multiple Tulsa area agencies responded to a simulated UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter crash during training hosted by the Oklahoma Army National Guard.
Chief Warrant Officer 2 Zackary Jenks, a pilot and aviation safety officer with the Oklahoma Army National Guard, said the training is a quarterly requirement to test the ability of Army aviation units to respond to any accident.
“This is the largest pre-accident training we’ve held here in Tulsa,” Jenks told leaders from Tulsa County Emergency Management, Tulsa and Catoosa fire departments and other agencies.
“We wanted to learn and we wanted to practice elevating this all the way to the national level in order to find the holes in our plan,” Jenks said. “We don’t often do this with outside agencies, so we wanted to build those relationships now.”
The exercise began with an announcement in the aviation facility that a helicopter had crashed on the landing pad. Two Soldiers from the flight operations center began calling local emergency responders and the Oklahoma National Guard’s Joint Operations Center in Oklahoma City.
Within minutes, ambulances and fire trucks began arriving at the Army aviation facility just east of the Tulsa International Airport. Once on scene, paramedics and firefighters began extracting helicopter crew members who were injured or killed in the scenario.
Catoosa Fire Department Chief Denus Benton watched the firefighters and paramedics work to free the Soldiers from the mock crash.
He said while his department most likely would not respond to a crash at the facility in Tulsa, Guard helicopter crews often train around Catoosa and have helped his department fight wildfires from the air using water buckets.
“Every fire department would love the opportunity to see and train on this,” Benton said. “Even something as simple as how the seats work. In an emergency, we would be using the jaws of life to try to extract people, and we found out here there are a few pins we could pull and get people out.”
Two more accident training events are scheduled at the Army Aviation Support Facility 2 this year.