Ramstein participates in Joint Emergency Response Exercise in Munich

Airman 1st Class Melissa Maraj
Kaiserslautern American

***image1***MUNICH, Germany — Members of the 86th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron, alongside more than 1, 000 participants took part in a Joint Emergency Response Exercise held March 26 at Munich Airport.
Coordinated by German civilian emergency response teams, Munich Airport and NATO, the exercise provided an opportunity for civilian participants to practice joint emergency operations with the U. S. Air Force and members of the German Armed Forces.
Dr. Thomas Thorston Meier, safety director of Munich Airport, developed the idea to do a joint exercise to test German Civilian Emergency Response teams for the airport should an emergency situation arise involving non-Germans.
“Although the primary function of the exercise for the airport was to recertify Munich airport for the International Civil Aviation Organization, we decided in the context of counter terrorism, to task civil military cooperation and to do it internationally,” said Lt. Col. (Dr.) Gene Bonventre, chief of the International Health Program for U.S. Air Forces in Europe and U. S. European Command.
The exercise provided both the 86th AES aircrew and Mobile Air Staging Facility members additional training.
“The most important thing is when you create a scenario and you want to invite military assets, there has to be some value for the military side,” said Lt. Col. Dr. Juergen Knuepple, medical advisor, NATO Headquarters, U.S. Air Forces in Europe.
The emergency scenario included both German Armed Forces and U.S. Air Force aircrew flying in patients from out of area, but for whatever reasons they could not land there, so they had to land at Munich Airport, said Dr. Knuepple.
“Patients” on both Air Force and German military aircraft presented a wide variety of possible conditions to include, intensive care patients to disease non-battle injuries that did not require immediate extreme care.
“It was important for both sides to stick to their procedures,” said Dr. Knuepple.
“Because the German authorities had to learn that there might be differences in organization.”
Upon the arrival of the 86th AES crew and German military “patients,” to the Munich Airport, German civilian emergency response teams to include the Red Cross, Polizei, Fire brigade and medical staff, stood lined up and ready to respond along the perimeters of the surrounding airfield.
“It was quite a scene coming in with all the helicopters, ambulances and fire trucks that were waiting for us,” said Capt. Lisa Ciesko, 86th AES flight nurse. “The coordination between the local German health care folks and our crew went very well,” she said.
There was great coordination with getting patients off of the aircraft and we got the patients to where they needed to be to get further treatment, said Captain Ciesko.
“Overall it was a great exercise.” It gave us the opportunity to train inside the aircraft, to do what we do on a daily basis, but at night, which adds something extra and to train with the capabilities on the ground into an airfield that is not expecting us,” said Captain Ciesko.
Overcoming language differences and equipment compatibility posed little to no problem during the evaluation of patients during the exercise, said Dr. Rainald Kaube, Chief Intensive Care Specialist for the Munich area, who was one of the first to assist in the care of American “patients” during the exercise.
“We all had the chance to learn something different with this exercise,” said Dr. Kaube. “We hope that if we ever have to deal with a real situation, we can use what we have learned to (expedite) the care of patients.”
“This is the first time that we tested on a mass scale the inoperability of medical,” said Lt. Col. Steve Hill, director of operations, 86th AES.
During this exercise, we (showed) that the problems that existed with equipment compatibility in 1988 when the Ramstein Air Show disaster happened, was a problem back then —That problem is solved now, said Lieutenant Colonel Hill.
In addition to working together in a joint environment, the exercise gave both the German and American military members an opportunity to develop a greater understanding of how the different groups function in an emergency situation.
“This exercise provided us with the opportunity to bind ourselves tightly to our German host and to show that we can do the types of things that we may be called to do together,” said Lieutenant Colonel Hill.