News: Airmen, host nation participate in MARE
Story by Senior Airman Jared Trimarchi
AL UDEID AIR BASE, Qatar -- Airmen and members of the Qatar Emiri Air Force participated in a base-wide Major Accident Response Exercise at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, March 21, 2014, to test the effectiveness of responding to an accident and to hone the skills of first responders.
The simulated scenario for the MARE involved a C-130 Hercules which crashed at the end of a runway with 20 service members onboard. Organizations from all over the base had to react to the exercise as if it were the real deal.
"Major Accident Response Exercises are made to test our capabilities of responding to a major accident such as an airplane crash, where multiple people are injured, and all members involved did a tremendous job ensuring the event was a success," said 1st Lt. Mark Venturino, 379th Air Expeditionary Wing plans and programs exercise chief who is deployed from Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas and a Geneseo, N.Y., native. "The exercise was also used to strengthen the relationship between our first responders and their Qatari counterparts, who would be working together if a major accident was to occur. The exercise went off without a hitch and all of our objectives were met."
Firemen from the 379th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron fire protection flight were the first on scene and were tasked with putting out a fire which started in the back of the aircraft.
According to Tech. Sgt. Michael Gagnier, 379th ECES fire protection flight lead evaluator who is deployed from Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont., and an Ocala, Fla., native said, "The firemen who were on scene did an outstanding job taking care of the mission to safely put out the fire and get the patients who were on board to safety. As firemen, we train to handle these type of situations and the MARE really showed how well we can effectively handle working in stressful environments."
The simulated patients were moved from the aircraft to a triage area where medical response teams categorize patients and transitioned them to higher levels of care.
"Even with a minor language barrier, the interaction between Qatar and American emergency response personnel was immediate and the patients were taken care of in an efficient manner," Venturino said. "I was impressed how two organizations from different countries can come together to work on a common goal, which was taking care of the simulated crash victims."
Venturino would like to thank the volunteers who acted as injured patients during the exercise.
"We would not have been able to assess the ability of the first responders without the volunteers who took time out of their day to serve as simulated victims," Venturino added. "They did an impressive job and took the exercise seriously. There was one victim who was such a good simulated patient that I thought that person was actually injured. We like to make these exercises as real as possible to evaluate how well our teams can react to stressful environments."
The 379th AEW chief of plans and programs, Lt. Col. Kevin Penrod, was impressed by how well all members reacted during the exercise.
"I am certain if this would have been a real mishap our service members and their host nation counterparts would have done an excellent job of taking care of the situation," said Penrod, who lives in Oklahoma City, Okla. and is stationed here. "It is always a humbling experience to see service members who are willing to give up personal comforts to help those who are in need."