News: ARFF strengthens communication during crash fires
Story by Lance Cpl. Jennifer Pirante
IWAKUNI, YAMAGUCHI, Japan - Aircraft Rescue Firefighting and medical personnel from the Robert M. Casey Medical and Dental Clinic quickly responded to a simulated emergency crash landing on the southern end of the old runway here during Active Shield 2011, March 1.
In the scenario, a U.S. C-12 Cessna was shot down on final approach of the runway by an anti-aircraft missile from an unknown location.
The result was a flame-engulfed crash scene where seven passengers were recovered from the wreck.
Six passengers suffered severe injuries to the arms and legs. The other passenger died on the scene.
While medical personnel conducted proper procedure to gain access to the crash scene, ARFF Marines went to work, applying the life-saving skills needed to save as many lives possible.
In the event of a crash fire, Air Traffic Control notifies the Emergency Operations Center and ARFF via radio.
Once notified, ARFF personnel respond to the emergency.
ARFF’s mission during the exercise was to conduct positive control, provide rescue and firefighting services to the scene and provide health services to victims.
Staff Sgt. Jason Nickell, ARFF training chief, was on the scene to evaluate his crew during the drill.
“The way the exercise was executed today was near perfect,” said Nickell. “I was very pleased with what I saw.”
ARFF’s professionalism and effective coordination was exhibited by their quick response to the emergency.
“They got the call, they responded, they relayed information, the vehicles responded safely, the crews responded from their vehicles, they established a command system and used good communication,” said Nickell.
During crash fire exercises, ARFF is not only responsible for maintaining effective communication among each other, but among other rescue and dispatch elements as well.
These types of exercises help train medical personnel and ARFF to communicate effectively among each other, which is important because both parts have to be able to respond to the situation, said Lt. Graham Danyleyko, BHC disaster emergency manager.
One of the challenges the medical crew faces during an emergency is gaining access to the crash site due to safety precautions.
“Taking care of the patient is the easy part for us,” said Danyleyko. “The hard part is making sure that we follow all the rules. We can’t do that if we don’t think about safety.”
In a real crash fire emergency, safety restrictions can keep medical personnel from gaining immediate access to the scene, which is why first aid and life-saving skills are an essential part of ARFF’s training.
“ARFF is trained enough to be the first responders and take care of many of the patients,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Leyla Castro, a BHC aviation medical technician. “That way, when we get there, it’s just scoop and go.”
After ARFF rescued the victims, put out spot fires and gained control of the situation, Marines and sailors met with their evaluators to gain feedback about the scenario.
“One thing that was done exceptionally well out here was communication,” said Nickell. “In every exercise I have been involved in, communication has always been a huge issue. I was very surprised out here to see excellent communication among everybody.”
ARFF and BHC personnel wrapped up the scenario for both sections with a successful rescue mission and valuable training for both sections.