Mutual-aid exercise helps hone skills

by Master Sgt. Steve Horton
Ramstein Public Affairs

Ramstein and local German emergency responders conducted a mutual-aid response exercise June 26 to test procedures put in place in the event of a large-scale incident on base.

The Ramstein fire department, security forces and medical forces worked side-by-side with host nation medical and fire personnel to practice evacuation and rescue procedures during a a bomb threat and detonation scenario at the newly opened Kaiserslautern Military Community Center. German Polizei and the U.S. Army also had observers on hand.

“The purpose of the exercise was to evaluate the anti-terrorism and force protection plan for the KMCC,” said Lt. Col. Joel King, chief of Ramstein inspections and readiness. “We also wanted to evaluate the process of requesting host nation assistance for a large-scale accident, observe the reaction and response time from the host nation responders, and to allow for the joint coordination of on-base and host nation first responders in response to a major accident scenario.”

While the on-scene responders worked to clear the scene, their counterparts in the emergency operations center exercised communication and coordination procedures to make sure the crews on-scene had everything they needed.

“The exercise went well. I was impressed with good participation from across the wings and the large, well-qualified emergency response capability that our host nation can provide,” said Col. Gary Chesley, 435th Civil Engineer Group commander and EOC director. “An incident at the KMCC, the DOD’s largest single-site construction project, may very well require assistance from our host nation.”

Even though the exercise went well, the colonel pointed out that things can always be improved.

“Despite our success, we do have some minor lessons to be learned that will be tracked to closure,” Colonel Chesley said. “Many of them have to do with improving efficiency of information transfer and developing the best possible common operating picture for those that require it during emergencies.”

Colonel King added that from the inspections and readiness office’s perspective, the exercise accomplished all their goals.

“From a base perspective, we gained valuable experience in regards to the joint coordination efforts between on-base and host nation responders,” he said. “This is something that needs to be exercised regularly so that when we actually need the assistance from the host nation personnel, the coordination piece of that puzzle is understood by all involved.”

The 435th Air Base Wing commander was also on hand to see the emergency responders in action.

“I was very impressed with our emergency responders and with the cooperation between the base agencies and those from the surrounding communities,” said Col. Thomas Gould, 435th ABW commander.  “It’s an important partnership and exercises like this ensures the strong working relationships remain intact.”