Bilateral exercise strengthens community readiness
ROKKASHO VILLAGE, Japan -- Emergency responders from Misawa Air Base and the local community participated in a bilateral Major Accident Response Exercise at Rokkasho Village, Japan, Aug. 19.
The purpose of the MARE was to evaluate the rapid response capabilities of base and town agencies through a series of simulated events similar to real-world emergencies.
"There is a great level of understanding between both the U.S. military members here and the local community," said Eiji Sugiyama, Aomori prefecture police department superintendent of community affairs. "As a result of this exercise, we can further prepare ourselves for these situations and work together to prevent them from happening."
Beginning the day's exercise with an introduction by Rokkasho Village's mayor, Mamoru Toda, he explained the importance of cooperation with both American and Japanese agencies and the necessity of swift action during an emergency situation.
The scenario involved a downed F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft that had experienced engine trouble. The aircraft crash-landed in Rokkasho Village's Mutsu Ogawara seaport.
The crash resulted in a housing fire, 11 injured civilians, two fishermen stranded in the water and a stranded pilot who ejected.
Systematically responding to the scene, Aomori prefecture and Noheji town police arrived first and immediately set up a cordon in the accident's area.
With a downed aircraft and injured civilians needing attention, the next to arrive were Northern Kamakita Fire Department personnel who doused the jet and a "burning" building, allowing other personnel to evacuate the injured.
Once the fire had subsided and the injured had been escorted to a safe area, Rokkasho Village fire department medics set up a portable triage.
Upon their arrival, ambulances filled with Misawa AB emergency response members immediately began their coordination with the on-scene agencies to treat the wounded.
Airmen from the 35th Security Forces Squadron assisted local police in providing a perimeter and enacted a plan for proper coordination between the various groups.
American and Japanese from the 35th Civil Engineer Squadron fire department jumped right in and assisted the Kamakita fire team with securing the burning aircraft and building, along with the escort of additional victims.
"This exercise provided a great opportunity to train with both Misawa AB firefighters and Japanese civilian firefighters," said Takuya Kanto, 35 CES civilian firefighter. "We have a special relationship and I was happy to work together with everyone."
A joint team of Air Force, Navy and Japanese from the 35th Medical Group provided urgent care to injured civilians and the pilot who was rescued from the nearby coast.
As each objective was completed, the on-scene commander reviewed the next course of action and delegated responsibilities to the agencies, ensuring no process was left unchecked.
For Misawa personnel, it's also a chance to work together with their Japanese hosts and further the professional relationship they share.
"Today's exercise allows us to put our joint training into practice and perfect our strategy for coordinating a response to an accident," said Master Sgt. Michael Grice, 35th Fighter Wing inspector general for inspections.
At the conclusion of the exercise, 35th Fighter Wing vice commander, Col. Andrew Hansen, congratulated the agencies on a job well done and highlighted the cooperation displayed between everyone, explaining how it only made the relationship between members of Misawa Air Base and the Japanese community stronger.