JOINT BASE ANACOSTIA-BOLLING, D.C. An invaluable aircraft crash exercise was conducted on Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling (JBAB) Dec. 5, with numerous tenant organizations on base taking part in the drill. Those involved believe the lessons learned offer key training in not only emergency response, but how organizations must communicate with each other in the aftermath of what could be a horrendous tragedy with multiple deaths and injuries.
In an early morning briefing to personnel at JBAB’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC), JBAB Commander Capt. Anthony Calandra laid out what he expected from the exercise - noting an emphasis on taking every safety precaution possible. While excited about the day’s exercise, he said it’s vital to never lose sight of that focus.
“We want to train and learn from this exercise. This will be a real-world situation and we need to respond accordingly,” Calandra said. “If we make mistakes, let’s make them today so we’re better prepared in the event something like this should happen.”
There are many variables that emergency responders must deal with when incidents like a small aircraft crashes. While one group is at the scene aiding and transporting victims and those injured, traffic needs to be maintained; outside agencies must be notified; requests from the media must be properly handled and those living, working and visiting the base must be accounted for in a timely manner.
Timothy Trammel has been at JBAB a little more than a year as its director of training and emergency readiness. Overall, he said the exercise, which had members of the U.S. Navy Ceremonial Guard and Air Force Honor Guard serve as role players, was a success and was handled really well by everyone involved. He was especially happy with the level of communication both at the scene of the exercise and inside the EOC.
“I was very impressed with the level of participation from our mission partners at the EOC. They made a point of staying on top of things and communicating with one another,” Trammell said. “That’s key in all this. Something like this is an intricate process and there are a lot of moving parts. Communication, as well as coordination, is crucial in establishing checklists and keeping things under control.”
Planning for this particular exercise began mid-May. It included multiple organizations on base, such as the 579th Medical Group and Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA). It’s also the first time JBAB has ever coordinated with the National Traffic Safety Board (NTSB), Trammel said.
The hope now is to increase the scale of the exercise next year to include Washington, D.C. Police and Fire; the U.S. Coast Guard and members of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). By expanding the scope of the exercise, Trammel said it would provide key insight into the response, recovery and investigation of such an incident.