180th Fire Dept. participates in community event
By Tech. Sgt Beth Holliker, 180th Public Affairs
/ Published June 15, 2009
July 2009 -- Though it may have looked like the scene of a horrific airplane crash at the Toledo Express Airport in Toledo, Ohio on the night of April 22, it was just an exercise.
Eight members of the 180th Fighter Wing fire department participated in an aircraft crash and recovery exercise along with the Toledo Lucas County Port Authority and several other local emergency, fire and rescue crews.
The Federal Aviation Administration requires these full-scale disaster exercises every three years in order for commercial airports to maintain their certification to operate. While required, these exercises also provide an opportunity to ensure that the airport emergency plan is coordinated correctly with all agencies that would respond to a real world incident.
"The airport had approximately 12 other outside agencies respond to the incident as mutual aid and assistance," said Mike Gula, the operations manager at Toledo Express Airport. "Among the firefighters we also had EMS, law enforcement, participating victims and the Lucas County communications team available at the site."
The 180th provided one crash and one rescue truck, and crew for each to support the drill. Their role for this non-military simulated emergency was to assist in the initial fire attack, and the rescue, triage and removal of the victims. Should a military incident occur on the airport, the 180th Fire Department would also assume the responsibility of incident command and control.
"The 180th's Fire Department has a Reciprocal Fire Protection Agreement with the Toledo Lucas County Port Authority outlining their role when an emergency happens on the airport," said Master Sgt. Tim Schnitker, the 180th FW fire chief. "These exercises give us the chance to work with the outside agencies that will respond if we have an aircraft incident of our own."
Though the exercise is mandated only every three years, in an effort to continue to hone their skills and to continue to evaluate outside resources and agencies, the 180th FW and the Port Authority plan to have several tabletop exercises and smaller-scale drills during the off years.
"I think overall it was a huge success," said Schnitker. "I also hope now, that we can learn from what we saw and make things better."