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NEWS | July 1, 2014

South Carolina National Guard hosts downed-aircraft exercise

By Capt. Brian Hare South Carolina National Guard

EASTOVER, S.C. — The South Carolina National Guard hosted a no-notice, multi-agency emergency response exercise at the McCrady Training Center (MTC) on Monday. The training scenario involved a downed aircraft as a result of a mid-air collision between two aircraft at the MTC. The aircraft that were utilized during the exercise included the UH-60 Black Hawk and the AH-64 Apache.

The purpose of the exercise was to evaluate responding agency actions against established response protocols, organizational standard operating procedures and unit capabilities for a downed aircraft incident.This entailed the initiation of multi-agency emergency response and the implementation of the Incident Command System (ICS), which required responders in the field to perform necessary actions associated with an initial response to a downed aircraft incident.

“When there’s an accident of this nature, there’s fire and debris prior to getting to the casualties,” said Col. Todd Shealy, garrison commander of McCrady Training Center. “We exercise all different aspects of this emergency situation.”

The evaluated training began after a simulated 911 call to the Fort Jackson Emergency Services Dispatch Center was made reporting that the incident had occurred. Responders had to pinpoint the location of the crash site and identify the specific airframes of the involved aircraft. McCrady Fire Department personnel implemented the ICS by establishing an operational command structure and conducting fire ground operations, which included fire suppression and casualty extrication. McCrady EMS personnel coordinated the medical response by beginning the process of triage, treatment and evacuation of simulated casualties.

Several agencies participated in the exercise, including the City of Columbia Fire Department, the Fort Jackson Fire Department, the McCrady Fire Department, Fort Jackson EMS, LifeNet of South Carolina, McCrady EMS, McCrady Troop Medical Command, Richland County EMS, the Army Aviation Support Facility, McCrady Operations, the South Carolina Army National Guard State Safety Office and the South Carolina State Guard.

At the end of the exercise, McCrady Assistant Fire Chief David W. Shillibeer commented on the success of the multi-agency response. “Even though we’ve never done this before, we all fell in together and worked like we’ve done it forever,” Shillibeer said.

Key leadership evaluated the primary objectives of the exercise, such as identifying potential gaps in resources and opportunities to improve inter-agency coordination. The lessons learned from the exercise will be used to review and improve established policies, procedures, training, equipment, and inter-agency mutual aid agreements.

“Our goal is to make sure we’re prepared to save a Soldier’s or civilian’s life here at McCrady Training Center or elsewhere,” Shealy said.