News: Fire protection teams kick off Balikatan 2012
Story by Pfc. Codey Underwood
CLARK AIR BASE, Philippines — The Philippine and U.S. Air Forces’ fire protection teams opened Exercise Balikatan 2012 with helicopter crash rescue training here April 16.
The two fire protection teams gave each other potential lifesaving tips and demonstrated how to perform more efficiently when responding to a helicopter crash. The bilateral training helps both armed forces to respond quickly and work together effectively in the event of an aircraft mishap.
First, Philippine fire protection teams from the 6012th Base Operations Squadron familiarized U.S. airmen from the 18th Civil Engineering Squadron with their Bell UH-1H helicopter. They explained safety procedures and details about the different features of the aircraft.
Making sure that both the Philippine and U.S. personnel know how to operate or handle each other’s systems could save lives in the future, said U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Robert P. Jarvis, fire protection crew chief with the 18th CES.
Fire protection team members from the 18th CES then explained to Philippine airmen how they perform personnel extraction from a helicopter, shut off the engine, and implement safety precautions related to the Sikorsky HH-60 Pave Hawk.
Safety training was everyone’s main goal today, said U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Edward Brown, the flight line expediter with the 718th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron. Between the Bell UH-1 Iroquois and the HH-60 there are many different potential safety hazards and knowing them is important.
“This training is going to help me and my team out in the long run,” said Philippine Air Force Tech. Sgt. Manuel Galve Jr., the Philippine fire protection chief for the 6012th Base Operations Squadron. “The things that we learn during this training, from dragging a crew member out, to turning off the engine, could save a life one day.”
“Every crew that comes to Balikatan brings another piece of the puzzle,” said Jarvis. “This is part of a longstanding relationship between both nations rooted in cooperation. Every year both sides build on training from the previous year.”
“I enjoy coming here and working with the Philippine Air Force,” said Brown. “Every Balikatan, the U.S. Air Force and the Philippine Air Force benefit a lot from the training and exercises we conduct.”
This is the 28th iteration of Exercise Balikatan, which provides opportunity for bilateral training for both the Philippine and U.S. armed forces. Balikatan is a Filipino word meaning “shoulder-to-shoulder.” The exercise is scheduled from April 16-27 in various locations throughout the Philippines. Events include a command post exercise, interoperability field training exercises and humanitarian civic assistance projects.