Joint Base Andrews members participated in “Exercise Sisyphus” on April 26, the largest Major Accident Response Exercise (MARE) held in the National Capital Region.
Andrews personnel and first responders performed in symphony with the 79th Medical Wing, Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and 11 local area hospitals during the MARE.
The exercise was conducted base-wide and was designed to test several units currently on and off Andrews and their emergency-response capability in the event of an aircraft mishap during the upcoming annual Joint Service Open House and Air Show.
“This exercise is the largest that we have ever done with Maryland’s Region Five hospitals and the first time we’ve done this exercise with Andrews,” said Regan Simmons, Joint Task Force National Capital Region Medical (JTF CapMed) training and exercise officer.
The JTF CapMed, along with the Prince George’s County Fire Department, Prince George’s County Police Department and Maryland’s Region Five hospitals were essential players and communication links during the joint-partnership exercise with Andrews.
“We were brought into this exercise to be the link between Andrews and Maryland’s Region Five hospitals. We are the civilian/military representation for the civilian and military hospitals,” said Simmons. “Our role was to provide exercise role players with off-base hospitals. Andrews provided the bus drivers and the means to get them there. We couldn’t have been happier. In fact, we’re hoping that this will become an annual event, because this exercise supplied the Maryland’s Region Five hospitals with mass casualty certifications, which they are required to do annually.”
As the scenario escalated a large contingency of 11th Wing first responders rushed to the aid several simulated casualties scattered along the tarmac. Approximately 117 patients were triaged and then transported via litter to the first aid station for accountability and patient care assessment before being out processed to surrounding local hospital facilities within the National Capital Region, to include Maryland’s Region Five hospitals.
“During the exercise, my team and I waited for the Andrews fire department to cordon off a simulated crash area and worked with medical flight medicine personnel to care for simulated patients as they came out of the mock scene,” said Maj. Martin Hartssema, 2012 Joint Service Open House deputy medical director. “Overall, I feel like we did really well. The purpose of every exercise is to evaluate the system and its effectiveness. We wanted to ensure that we have a solid medical response and this training allows us to better manage crowd control and safety in the event that anything happens.”
Joint Base Andrews also approached the Prince George’s County Office of Emergency Management (OME) to participate in the joint exercise.
“It was the first time in several years that we were actually involved in the exercise piece, although we always help out at the air show at Andrews,” said Jerome LaMoria, Prince George’s County OME training and exercise coordinator. “This year, we were able to integrate into the exercise, which included public safety partners such as our fire and police department, along with our public safety communications personnel. This exercise was also a great opportunity for us to really look at how an incident on Andrews would spill to require off base support. This exercise definitely tested our relationship and roles with Andrews in regards to emergency management. This exercise allowed us to get a head start on being able to handle those types of issues.”
According to Randolph Sena, 11th Wing chief of exercises and inspections, the scenario was designed to exercise the emergency response capabilities that Andrews will deploy during the upcoming 2012 Joint Service Open House.
“I’m pleased that the exercise provided an opportunity for more than 15 federal, state and local agencies to exercise emergency-response capabilities. These exercises test the ability of all those involved to transport and treat a large number of patients,” said Sena. “The interoperability between all of us to work together as one unified team across the NCR demonstrates our capability to respond to any scenario beyond the duel-aircraft crash we exercised here. It is exercises like this one that keep all of us ready and our communities safe.”