MARE tests Team Shaw
By Airman 1st Class Kathryn R.C. Reaves, 20th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
/ Published November 27, 2017
SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. -- The 20th Fighter Wing Inspector General team conducted a major accident response exercise, Nov. 17.
The exercise, which simulated a worst-case scenario fuel spill that contaminated water ways, tested the response of multiple groups of Airmen and contractors including fuels distribution, emergency services, environmental and medical responders.
The scenario was classified as a worst-case potential because it was based on the rupture of the wing’s largest fuel tank.
“We do these exercises to make sure the individuals that are in each organization understand their responsibilities, (that) communication between these units flows as it should, and that the personnel, equipment, facilities and the environment are all taken care of,” said Mark Yarke, 20th Logistics Readiness Squadron terminal superintendent for fuels bulk storage.
Airmen assigned to the 20th Civil Engineer Squadron fire department released water from a fire hydrant near fuel tanks to simulate the discharge of 450,000 gallons of fuel. They also poured water from a fire truck into a nearby drain and added a green dye to the water, representing its contamination.
Exercise participants were then tested on their response and coordination regarding each part of the incident, including providing mock medical care, creating a cordon to prevent individuals from entering the area, and tracking contamination.
“Teamwork is important because no one agency is going to get it done by themselves,” said Dustin Campbell, 20th FW IG exercise planner.
In addition to testing agency responses, these exercises help the 20th FW determine where improvements can be made in preparation for potential real-world incidents.
“They’re important to the Air Force as a whole because we want to look to mitigate all the hazards we can, so we need to identify problems before we have a real world event … to make sure we’re as prepared as we can be,” said Campbell. “They’re effective to prepare people because we try to provide the most realistic scenario as we can inside of our exercise constraints. They give the opportunity to get some hands-on, realistic training.”
As the Airmen and contactors departed to their work centers, they returned with a better understanding of their roles and responsibilities during major accident responses. This knowledge gets them ready for real-world events and prepares them to protect Team Shaw members, equipment, facilities and the environment.