Base participates in mass casualty exercise with local, state, federal agencies
By Staff Sgt. Sanjay Allen, 460th Space Wing Public Affairs
/ Published May 19, 2009
BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- More than 500 people representing roughly 40 local, state and federal agencies participated in a joint exercise here, May 15 and 16.
The Vigilant Front Range exercise brought the agencies together to test current plans, response actions and recovery efforts. The exercise also helped build understanding, trust and relationships essential in the fast-paced operating environment of major disasters. It also allowed the agencies to test their communications capabilities.
"The scale of this exercise was unprecedented for Buckley," said Adrianne Michele, 460th Space Wing Plans and Programs. "With so many participating agencies, we were able to push the limits of our response capabilities."
There have been exercises in the past that included agencies at the local level, but it's the first time Buckley has participated in anything on this scale with participation from agencies at three different levels of government.
"While we work on a daily basis with our counterparts downtown, like the City of Aurora, major exercises like Vigilant Front Range give us the opportunity to work together in a fast-paced environment of a major disaster or incident," said Col. Charlotte Wilson, 460th Space Wing Vice Commander. "Participating together in an exercise scenario like this will help us hone our response capabilities in the event of a major disaster or incident."
The exercise kicked off with a mock fuel tanker explosion at the Buckley Family Housing's Community Center that simulated injuring hundreds of volunteer victims. About an hour later a second mock explosion from an exercise suicide bomber simulated injuring and killing numerous emergency first responders from the base and city. The simulated injured were transported to local hospitals by ambulances and Colorado Army National Guard helicopters. Some of the 200 simulated injured were moulaged to add a life-like feel to the exercise.
With the amount of people and agencies involved in the exercise, plus all the moving parts, safety is always a priority. Internal safety measures were put in place to make sure the participants and the public were safe throughout the exercise.
"Each agency had safety standards in place for the exercise," said James Wright, 460th Space Wing Safety Office. "Every precaution was taken to ensure that the participants and the public were safe throughout the exercise."
Mr. Wright was at family housing to witness the outstanding coordination between base and local responders. He noted that safety is always of paramount importance, and this was evident in the coordination and efforts of responders.
"This whole exercise could have been a stage for real world accidents and mishaps to occur, but the coordinated efforts for a safe environment were evident," said Mr. Wright. "My hat is off to all the emergency, medical, law enforcement and defender personnel. Thanks for keeping safety first."
The lessons learned from all participating agencies are being reviewed to ensure current plans, response actions and recovery efforts incorporate the lessons learned.