Mass Casualty Exercise tests emergency services
MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan -- Marines, Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force personnel and the Iwakuni City Fire Department and Emergency Medical Services conducted Mass Casualty Exercise 2016 at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, March 23, 2016.
Conducted in preparation for the JMSDF/MCAS Iwakuni Friendship Day 2016 Air Show, the exercise simulated a dual aircraft collision where large crowds will be expected. Marking its 40th anniversary, the annual event will combine both the traditional MCAS Iwakuni Friendship Day and Fleet Air Wing 31’s annual base festival.
“We are preparing for friendship day on the air station by conducting a mass casualty drill to simulate if something were to go wrong,” said Capt. Dustin Mann, mass casualty exercise director and station aviation safety officer.
The JMSDF participated in the exercise to enhance bilateral cooperation with U.S. first responders, establish safety measures and maintain situational readiness.
“We have to practice for a mass casualty in order for us to successfully host friendship day on the air station,” said Mann. “We have to prepare for the worst and hope for the best.”
To make the exercise more realistic, first responders were left completely uninformed of the event details and residents participated as actors, either as a casualty or bystander. The actors simulated the chaos and panic that people in a real situation may express. First responders guided survivors away from the scene in order for medical teams to properly evacuate all wounded personnel.
“One of the things we noted last year, due to the lack of actors, the Provost Marshal’s Office was unable to meet their objectives of crowd control and establishing a cordon,” said Mikel Alford, team lead for regional teams West and Pacific. “This year we tripled the numbers of actors so they were able to achieve what they needed.”
To heighten the intense situation, the dual crash required emergency personnel to respond to both crash sites simultaneously, requiring them to handle each situation efficiently.
“One plane crashed on the flight line and the other crashed at the Monzen ball field,” said Mann. “First responders needed to respond to both locations making things a little more complicated and pushed them to their limits. But now that we are able to assess what they did well and did wrong, we can better prepare for the future.”
Mann said the first responders are ready if an event occurred and believes everyone is in good hands if something went wrong.
“You never know what can happen,” said Mann. “It’s important for us to know that we can respond and that we can handle people safely. I was impressed with the way that everyone handled themselves, they did it very professionally.”
For more information about Friendship Day 2016 visit http://friendship-day.net/.