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United effort: U.S., UK, Qatar test emergency response procedures

  • Published
  • By TSgt. Darrell Dean

Members of the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing, along with Royal Air Force and Qatar Emiri Air Force members participated in a major accident response exercise at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar on Nov. 12, 2019.

What began as two separate exercises to satisfy similar requirements for 379 AEW and RAF agencies became an opportunity for joint training to increase interoperability with coalition partners.

“The 901 Expeditionary Air Wing has an annual requirement to exercise its post-crash management plan, which is our response to an aircraft accident,” said RAF Flying Officer Jordan Barry Wild, 901 EAW flight safety officer. “I contacted the 379 AEW realizing they had similar requirements to see if it was possible for both of us to capture our exercise objectives all at one time.”

When presented with the chance to conduct an emergency response with a U.S. coalition partner, the 379 AEW Inspector General office could not pass up the opportunity.

“When the RAF contacted our office and wanted to conduct a joint exercise, we agreed without hesitation,” said Maj. Chris Terpening, 379 AEW Inspector General director of exercises. “Joint exercises are the perfect training events to increase interoperability with our international mission partners.”

The simulated incident involved a RAF A400M Atlas aircraft that experienced a bird strike during flight, damaging multiple engines. The aircraft conducted an emergency landing short of the runway and experienced a nose gear collapse causing multiple casualties and injuries onboard.

According to Wild, the RAF and other allied nations commonly use the A400M aircraft. Providing the aircraft for this exercise allows for coalition partners who may not have been familiar with the A400M to gain experience on the airframe before a real-world emergency situation.

The 379th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron dispatched security forces members to secure the scene. Firefighters from the 379th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron and QEAF responded to the incident just as they would in a real-world emergency. They removed victims from the aircraft and began immediate first aid until medics from the 379th Expeditionary Medical Group arrived on scene.

The QEAF firefighters’ response with their U.S. counterparts provided a unique training opportunity.

“You fight like you train,” said Senior Airman Caleb Floyd, a firefighter assigned to the 379th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron. “We work in the same building as the QEAF firefighters. We see them every day. To be able to get out here and train with them in an emergency scenario only improves our response in a real emergency situation.”

Initial results from the exercise have already resulted in improvements, according to Wild. Lessons learned will continue to be implemented as exercise data is analyzed.

“One item we immediately noted was a difference in terminology,” he stated. “Clear communication is critical in an emergency situation. We’ve found areas where we can implement training to improve communication and understand what each agency is saying.”

The 379 AEW regularly plans and conducts exercises at Al Udeid AB to evaluate the base response to a variety of emergency situations. This enables the base to sustain air power across the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility.