JBPHH partners with local community for disaster preparedness exercise

(Via Ho’okele News)

The 15th Wing recently partnered with the 154th Wing, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam and first responders from the local community to conduct a major accident response exercise (MARE) in preparation for the upcoming “Wings Over the Pacific” airshow.

The “Wings Over the Pacific” Airshow is scheduled for Sept. 27-28 at JBPHH and will feature the U.S. Navy’s Blue Angels and the Air Force’s F-22 and C-17 demonstration teams and the U.S. Navy parachute team.

Photo illustration by Rico Onaha Hutter

The MARE was a fully functional exercise event, which brought the total force together to provide a consolidated response to a simulated catastrophic aircraft mishap which resulted in mass casualties.

John Tauber, 15th Wing Inspections chief, said the day’s objective was to practice the group’s response to a worst case scenario where multiple civilians and military personnel were hurt or killed while attending an on-base airshow.

“You don’t know what you don’t know until you practice,” said Tauber about the exercise. “We tried to plan for the worst-of-the-worst case scenario that has the potential to happen when many thousands of spectators are crowded into a small area to watch an aerobatic display.”

Tauber said to prepare for the MARE, the Emergency Management Office partnered with subject matter experts to develop a comprehensive emergency action plan that would prepare the base for a multitude of potential emergency events that could develop during the airshow.

First responders from the 15th Wing, 154th Wing, joint base and local community respond to a simulated downed helicopter crash site.

More than 1,000 hours went into ramping up to be prepared for the airshow.

“We took this opportunity before the airshow to test the plan, and work though any glitches found, so that we go into the event prepared to respond to multiple types of emergencies,” he said.

Though the MARE was to practice a specific staged event, Tauber said the emergency action plan is written to be flexible dependent upon the nature of the emergency.

In addition to 15th Wing, 154th Wing, and joint base representatives from Honolulu’s Federal Fire Department, Honolulu Police Department and FEMA Disaster Medical Assistance Team were on hand to participate in the exercise, but it wasn’t just for show.

Tauber said all of the MARE’s participants will be in place and ready to respond prior to each day when airshow aircraft are flying.

“This is a scenario we plan for, but pray we never have to execute,” he said. “The safety of every Airman, Sailor, Soldier, Marine and civilian in attendance is of paramount importance to the combined leadership of Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.”

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