ROSECRANS AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Mo. --
Missouri Airmen and civilian emergency response agencies from St. Joseph and the surrounding area gather together at Rosecrans Air National Guard Base to practice a major accident response.
Airmen with the 139th Airlift Wing, Missouri Air National Guard, conducted a base-wide Major Accident Response Exercise on March 5, 2021, in preparation for the upcoming Sound of Speed Air Show. The MARE exercise allows Airmen to work with civilian agencies in coordinating emergency responses to a mock aircraft accident scenario.
Many different events took place across base as part of the MARE. The training exercise included a mock aircraft crash, casualty search and recovery, locating a missing child, and setting up a place to comfort families.
Master Sgt. Abby Pierce, Installation Emergency Manager with the 139th, explained that one of the most important aspects of the exercise is the communication that happens behind the scenes to ensure information is gathered and used as efficiently as possible, to effectively respond to a potential emergency situation.
“It’s an exercise that tests emergency responders, and some of the command and control functions at the 139th Airlift Wing,” Pierce said.
“We’re able to evaluate and potentially change some of the plans to make us a better responding organization.”
The Emergency Operations Center is the place where Airmen representing each section of base operations, accumulate details about the incident and coordinate responses between the participating agencies.
On the flightline, base firefighters along with local civilian emergency agencies rushed to extinguish the flames engulfing a mock aircraft fuselage. Fire trucks doused the outside before firefighters proceeded to the inside to quench the lingering flames. While inside, they retrieved burned dummies that simulate casualties.
“This is something we do everyday. This is what we train for,” Master Sgt. Michael Geeting, assistant chief of operations, 139th Fire Emergency Services said. “We’re always ready 100 percent of the time.”
Shortly following the mock aircraft accident, announcements were made across the base intercom system notifying all personnel of a missing child. Once again the EOC coordinated their efforts and resources to find the child.
“I think today has gone very well,” Peirce said, adding that MARE’s are much more than just exercises.
The exercise allows Airmen to practice in a real-time scenario, mimicking the high-stress, fast-paced environment that is as close to reality as possible. It provides local civilian agencies with the opportunity to work alongside Airmen, and visa-versa, building the strong relationships that are needed to conduct cohesive communication, should a real life situation arise.
“Anytime that we have outside organizations come to the Wing, it is such a great experience and we build those relationships,” Pierce said. “That right there is probably the most important thing of today.”
On May 1st and 2nd, the 139th Airlift Wing, city of St. Joseph, and Buchanan County will host the Sound of Speed Air Show. The U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds will be featured.