CAMP ARIFJAN, Kuwait: Third Army Soldiers and rescue workers conducted a pre-accident plan exercise on the flight line at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, Jan. 25.
The scenario simulated a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter from Udari Army Airfield flying in with a tail-rudder failure, which caused a hard landing that injured the crew and four Soldiers with simulated wounds.
The exercise included personnel from a number of organizations at Camp Arifjan to include 164th Theater Airfield Operation Group safety personnel, Area Support Group – Kuwait’s fire-rescue team and air-field operations.
Although Army airfield personnel have an annual requirement to exercise pre-accident plans, Third Army has worked above the standard.
“We’re taking it a step further,” said Chief Warrant Officer 5 Harrison Cohen, the Patton Army Heliport airfield commander.
We’re executing this scenario in accordance with Lt. Gen. William G. Webster’s Granite Shield readiness initiative, Cohen said.
“We want to let the general know that we’re not only exercising our pre-accident plan, we’re involving crash rescue, emergency medical personnel and we’re doing as much as we can to help our unit to be ready at a moment’s notice and have all the pieces in place,” he said.
According to the plan, airfield operations requested the ASG-Kuwait fire-rescue team to respond to the emergency. The fire dispatch office then contacted emergency medical personnel who secured the crash site along with the Provost Marshal.
The fire-rescue team then extinguished any fire, while emergency medical technicians triaged the casualties then transported them to the troop medical clinic, where Navy personnel activated their plan to treat the casualties.
Exercises such as these can be a communications challenge, but having the information flowing between the different players ensures readiness.
“If the flag goes up, we’ll be ready,” Cohen said. “We’ll know exactly who the major players are. With the phone numbers that we call, we will know absolutely, 100 percent, who the person on the other end of the line is.”
Although Cohen and his Third Army counterparts have prepared for the worst, they hope for the best.
“We may never have to do this; but if we ever have to, it will work like clockwork as we react to an aircraft or ground accident,” Cohen said.
During a readiness exercise so large, coordination is always a challenge, but Third Army has focused all its efforts in accordance with Granite Shield.
“Everyone works together to figure out what the overall goal is, to get to the crash site as soon as possible, to take care of the individual Soldiers that are injured and to take care of all the equipment,” said Maj. Robert O’Connell, the 3rd Battalion,126th Aviation Brigade executive officer.
At the end of the day, all of this teamwork can save lives. Chief Warrant Officer 5 Brian Reid, Task Force 11 safety officer, explained the value of these exercises.
“If somebody learns one little thing today from this exercise that may save somebody’s life down the road, it’s invaluable. It’s priceless,” Reid said.