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Laughlin conducts massive exercise
LAUGHLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Texas – Simulated victims of a replica plane crash await medical attention in front of Laughlin’s fire trucks and Del Rio’s ambulances during the exercise here April 18. Laughlin conducted multiple exercises to prepare for an upcoming air show May 10. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Sara Csurilla)
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Intense exercises prepares Laughlin for upcoming air show

Posted 4/28/2008   Updated 4/28/2008 Email story   Print story


by Airman 1st Class Sara Csurilla
47th Flying Training Wing Public Affairs

4/28/2008 - LAUGHLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Texas  -- Security and emergency personnel are in place, hundreds of role players gather on the flight line and tension is high. This is the beginning of a massive exercise here to test and perfect Laughlin and Del Rio's emergency response procedures.

Laughlin members planned, organized and conducted small and base-wide exercises to prepare themselves and the surrounding communities for different scenarios that could possibly happen during an air show.

"The exercise process in an ongoing method used to highlight any areas we think we could improve at and then modify them," said Maj. Kenneth Knox, exercise evaluation team chief. "We then evaluate the exercise itself and talk about what else we need to fix for the next one."

The exercises tested Laughlin's preparedness and ability to respond to any emergency on a moment's notice.

Scenarios also included situations from inclement weather and car crashes to plane crashes with mass casualties.

"The April 18 exercise is one of the largest exercises Laughlin has ever seen," said Major Knox. "We stopped our entire flying mission for most of the day and had nearly 60 people with simulated injuries."

During this exercise, evaluators were looking to improve communications with emergency response teams, controlling large crowds during an emergency and having military members police the air show attendees.

"To ensure the exercise could feel as real as possible, we had an announcer, static displays and involved nearly 1,000 people including role players, evaluators and emergency response personnel," said Major Knox. "The layout mimicked the real air show that will be held here May 10."

It was a day-long event that started with a grease fire, a mock plane crash and a mass casualty on the flight line.

"Our ultimate goal for this particular exercise was better communication with Del Rio emergency management providers," said Ron Smith, fuel specialist contractor. "I believe we accomplished that goal, and I feel like it put us in a very good situation."

Laughlin devoted months to planning the exercise and the coordination ranged from assigning individuals with specific injuries to test the medical team to having an air evacuation team come from San Antonio and simulate an emergency response.

The preparation also helped Laughlin firefighters work alongside the Del Rio fire department in order to create a synergetic emergency response team.

This teamwork between Del Rio and Laughlin proved to be successful when the exercise ceased.

"We want to make this whole community a part of team XL," said Smith. "Now our team and the community as a whole as improved tremendously."

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