U.S. Marines, sailors and Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force personnel conducted a mass casualty exercise at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, March 1, 2017.
The exercise assessed the air station’s initial response, incident management, activation of the emergency operations center and mass casualty plan in the event of a downed aircraft.
Consisting of over 150 actors, who simulated casualties and bystanders, the scenario was kept as realistic as possible by leaving first responders oblivious to the events taking place.
“No information was given to any of the participants,” said U.S. Marine Corps Chief Warrant Officer 3 Derek McCarthy, Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting officer in charge. “We held everything pretty close to those involved with the coordination of the exercise. The participants had to react without warning and do what they were trained to do.”
As a requirement in preparation for Friendship Day, the mass casualty exercise proved the air station’s capability of response in one of the worst possible scenarios.
“I think things went very well,” said McCarthy. “We didn’t have any issues with anyone going off script and by the end of the day; we were able to show that our response was more than capable of containing a mass casualty situation and rendering it safe in a timely manner.”
During the exercise, there was a secondary crash simulation where it was incumbent upon the incident commanders to formulate a plan to respond while dealing with the initial crash.
“I think everyone did an excellent job; they displayed their knowledge of the base and what the fastest response routes were to mitigate the situation,” said U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Eric Cox, ARFF station captain for Charlie shift. “When we arrived on scene everyone reacted appropriately by handling hazardous materials and other obstacles the correct way, and it allowed us to proceed quickly in containing the situation.”
Beyond familiarization with equipment and procedures, the participating entities were able to take away more than the basic day-to-day training knowledge.
“Doing this type of training better-prepared everyone involved,” said Cox. “It gave everyone a better understanding of their equipment and built confidence in the situation. It also allowed everyone to collaborate and efficiently work with other units, leaving everyone with the comfort of knowing they can count on each other.”
Story by Lance Cpl. Joseph Abrego