Okinawans, Marines sharpen aircraft fire, rescue procedures
MARINE CORPS AIR STATION FUTENMA - Heat waves from the burning fuselage rippled across the flight line as a crash and fire rescue team doused it with water to extinguish the flames Sept. 21 at Marine Corps Air Station Futenma.
Okinawa firefighters and police joined aircraft rescue and firefighting Marines with Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron, MCAS Futenma, Marine Corps Installations Pacific, and firefighters with Marine Corps Base Camp Butler, MCIPAC, for a day of classroom training and practical application exercises focused on responding to a downed aircraft.
"Exercises like this will be replacing the table-top exercises we previously conducted," said Chief Warrant Officer Brent A. DeBusk, the officer in charge with ARFF, H&HS. "For this exercise, we put more emphasis on the hands-on portion of the training."
The table-top exercises were regularly scheduled mishap training events that occurred around Okinawa and focused on preparing Okinawa and MCB Butler first-responders to work together in case of emergencies. Feedback from past mishap training events identified that local firefighters and police wanted more information on the specific mechanics of various Marine aircraft and opportunities to practice emergency response techniques, according to Mike Lacey, the regional installation emergency manager for MCIPAC.
Emergency personnel with Urasoe City Fire Department, Naha City Fire Department, Ginowan City Fire Department, Okinawa Prefecture Police, the Japan Coast Guard, the Okinawa Defense Bureau, the Ministry Office of Foreign Affairs and the Directorate of Crisis Management Office attended the training.
"We do not expect that an accident will happen but if one does occur, Japan and the U.S. will have to coordinate a response," said Hitoshi Tasaki, director, Directorate of Crisis Management Office. "Therefore, this kind of training is necessary and important. Today, we saw the mechanisms and actual aircraft, and it was extremely helpful."
The day began with Okinawa firefighters and police receiving instruction on the C-130 Hercules cargo aircraft, CH-46E Sea Knight helicopter and CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter. During the instruction, they learned how to properly extinguish a fire from a downed aircraft, as well as possible entry and exit points for rescuing anyone trapped inside.
The firefighters and police then took the training out of the classroom and into a realistic environment by using the mobile aircraft fire training device. The MAFTD uses controlled fires to simulate various types of airframe and engine fires, giving emergency personnel a chance to implement what they learned during classroom sessions.
The training also prepared MCIPAC emergency response personnel to work with Okinawa firefighters and police by providing familiarization with their techniques and equipment.
"This training solidified the knowledge of both the Japanese and U.S. first-responders," said Army Col. David W. Detata, chief of the Okinawa Area Field Office, U.S. Forces Japan. "Should a (mishap) occur, first-responders will now have the tools necessary from the hands-on instruction with the aircraft today."
The mishap training helped H&HS and MCIPAC Marines achieve their goal of being a force in readiness by preparing Marine responders and their counterparts for a variety of situations.
"The local communities will have more confidence in their first-responders as they now know what to do in the situation of a downed aircraft," said Detata. "It shows that we are committed to work with the (Okinawa) communities should an accident occur."