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139th AW, local emergency personnel team up for Air Show

ST. JOSEPH, Mo. -- Safety was the number one priority Thursday at the 139th Airlift Wing, in St. Joseph, Mo.

Guardsmen and local emergency management officials, conducted an emergency exercise at Rosecrans Air National Guard Base to prepare them for a worst-case scenario at the upcoming Sound of Speed Air Show in May.

"Safety is paramount here," said Lt. Col. Dan Reece, chief of the exercise evaluation. "It's everything. There are problems. There are flames. Our people are out here taking control of the situation and keeping things safe for everyone."

During the exercise, a plane crash was simulated on the runway with multiple injuries to both crew and audience members. The Rosecrans Memorial Airport Fire Department came out on the tarmac to extinguish the mock flames while Heartland EMT staff helped transport the injured.

Support for the event was also provided by the St. Joseph and Elwood Police Departments, Buchanan and Doniphan County Sheriff Departments, the Missouri State Highway Patrol and especially Buchanan County emergency management director, Bill Brinton.

"We brought all kinds of different organizations, local and state, together," said Wayne Boggs, the air boss for the show. "We want to make sure all of the agencies are operating out of the same playbook."

"That's what great about the National Guard," added Reece. "Our experience level isn't just within this base. We are in synch with all kinds of outside agencies."

Reece said the main purpose of the exercise was to get the wounded off of the base while keeping the crash site maintained for investigation purposes. Doing so involved the help of all of the organizations to maintain control and communication with one another. It also involved show announcers Bob Heater and B.J. Scott who would have an important responsibility to keep the audience calm in a real-world event.

"We need to make sure everyone is standing back and parents, please keep a hold of your children," announced Bob Heater during the exercise.

After the crash simulation, 139th members held meetings to go over the strong and the weak points of the exercise. Boggs said he is confident of the capabilities of all agency members to conduct the safest air show possible come this spring.
"When you put 30,000 people on this base, having people who are prepared greatly reduces the chance of an accident," said Boggs. "We are far enough out right now that we can conduct an exercise like this to spot and fix any areas that need improvement."

The Sound of Speed Air Show will be held May 1-2 at Rosecrans Memorial Airport, in St. Joseph. The U.S. Navy's Blue Angels are set to perform.