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Simulated tornado strikes Wright-Patt
First responders rescue, triage and prepare the injured for transport during a mass casualty exercise March 10, 2010 at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. The scenario included a tornado touchdown near Building 79 in Area B, which also struck people exiting a bus who were attempting to seek shelter. Pictured (from left) are Wright-Patterson firefighters Captain Matthew Nethers and Lieutenant Samuel Feltner, and 88th Security Forces Squadron members Senior Airman Tyler Rich and Staff Sgt. Jerrod Ricketts. (U.S. Air Force photo/Ben Strasser)
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Base to conduct quarterly exercise

Posted 4/26/2013   Updated 4/26/2013 Email story   Print story


by Amy Rollins
88th Air Base Wing Public Affairs Skywrighter Staff

4/26/2013 - WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio -- Wright-Patterson Air Force Base officials will conduct quarterly exercises April 29-May 3. Several independent, simulated scenarios are planned, ranging from terrorist attacks utilizing a chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear agent; to a tornado; to mass casualties; to air piracy; and force protection conditions (FPCON).

In addition, multiple scenarios necessitating the use of an automated external defibrillator (AED) will be created.

The emergency family assistance control center also will be activated.

The AED is a portable electronic device that automatically diagnoses potentially life-threatening cardiac arrhythmias and is able to treat them through defibrillation, allowing the heart to reestablish an effective rhythm.

Of considerable importance will be the Phase 1 and Phase 2 readiness exercises: Phase 2 will take place April 29 and will give Airmen the opportunity to demonstrate their wartime ability to survive and operate or "ATSO" skills in a deployed setting. This will take place at the Warfighter Training Center.

Unit deployment managers across Wright-Patt will be helping prepare their personnel May 3 to process themselves and their cargo for simulated deployment, also known as Phase 1.

Processing the cargo is a huge challenge, said Carmen Riches, exercise evaluation team chief. Often, the cargo may consist of hazardous materials and thus must be configured and secured on an aircraft in a specific way because of that.

"Those are some of the challenges that the units experience day to day, and we have to be able to do that very, very well for our readiness inspection," she said. "What we'll be doing is a comprehensive exercise."

Each "Phase" exercise is one third of the readiness inspection the Air Force Materiel Command Inspector General inspects for; the remaining one third is for emergency management.

Tom Purtle, installation exercise program manager, advised base personnel to prepare by reviewing their unit checklists; review applicable emergency plans, check all shelter equipment to make sure it is operational, and review shelter plans.

"That's pretty much the key to success," Mr. Purtle said. "We evaluate personnel's capability to properly execute existing contingency and emergency plans. We also make sure our plans are comprehensive enough to thoroughly cover all contingencies."

One challenge that needs to be highlighted is personnel understanding the difference between shelter and shelter in place, Ms. Riches said. They need to look those up, she said.

"Know the difference and why," Mr. Purtle advised, as Ms. Riches explained that seeking shelter is finding a structure to escape the effects of an event like a tornado, while shelter in place is a space where air flow into the building is managed and would be best to stay in if an event elsewhere created contaminated air.

The exercises could have the following effects:

· Gate traffic could be backed up or rerouted to other entry control points if the gate is closed;
· Travel may be congested, especially with the FPCON exercise.
"They can expect up to an hour delay," Ms. Riches said.
· Security measures will be increased.
· Sirens will be sounded for the tornado exercise. Communities surrounding the base may hear the siren but are advised that it is part of an exercise.
· "Giant Voice" activation expected.
· Telephonic and electronic notification methods will be utilized.

"People can get a better idea of what to expect of the exercises by reading the ground rules," Ms. Riches said, "and the special instructions that go with each of the exercises we conduct on a quarterly basis."

Unit control centers should have a copy of these exercise-guiding documents, she said.

"Our goal is to ensure that the areas that we have to cover in each of the exercises blend in requirements from Air Force Instructions as well as put in place knowledge at the unit level and the understanding that people know what to do for real-world response. That's why we exercise," Ms. Riches said.

The quarterly exercises vary. The next set of exercises is scheduled for July.

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