BARNES AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Mass. --
In preparation for the 2017 Westfield International Air Show, celebrating a Century of Air Power, on August 12-13, the 104th Fighter Wing hosted local community partners to participate in a Major Accident Response Exercise. Our community partners came from Westfield Police, Fire and Emergency Management, Massachusetts State Police, Emergency Management Agency and Department of Transportation, the Springfield Office of Emergency Preparedness, the American Red Cross, Mercy Medical Center, Baystate Health, Alert Ambulance, Westover Air Reserve Base, and Bradley Air National Guard Base. The exercise was held on May 24 and it tested our collective ability to respond to and recover a large-scale mass casualty event.
Our first responders from the Fire Department, Security Forces, and Emergency Management worked to respond to a simulated mid-air collision causing the loss of life and property. The full-spectrum of emergency response was tested in a complex, fluid environment. Our firefighters coordinated first-strike response with multiple crash-fire rescue vehicles, and established an incident command post to coordinate response across fire, law enforcement, and emergency management functions. The men and women that participated in the exercise worked extremely well with their community partners across both incident locations. They teamed up to rapidly extinguish the fire, rescue victims and ensure they reached hospital care in the least amount of time.
I am proud of the hard work our 104th Fighter Wing responders put forth during this exercise. Our team had a great attitude, integrated off-base agencies seamlessly, and worked together as if this was the “real thing.” The operational coordination and communication from the Fire Chief, Mr. Travis Raby, down to the incident commanders was excellent; and, communication from the Fire Chief to the Emergency Operations Center also worked well. As always, passing information to all people, in a timely manner, can always be improved. Another area of improvement will be planning for extended operations for base recovery (24-hour periods for manning, food, lodging, and supplies). As this was an inspection by the Inspector General, we learned that there are areas of improvement (as there always is). Our team will seek to understand our deficiencies, solve the problem areas that created weakness, and secure our strengths -- and then, share our successes going forward.
Now that the MARE is behind us, we still have work to do to ensure a safe and fun 2017 Westfield International Air Show. A lot of the Emergency Management preparedness actions go on behind the scenes, and we hope we can keep it that way; but if required, we are ready to respond at a moment’s notice to take care of our members, their family and friends, and our air show guests.
Finally, a big thank you to Master Sgt. Chris McCrary for hosting the event and for Lt. Col. Pete Carr for planning the exercise. Without these two individuals, we would not have been able to pull off this great event.