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Citizen Airmen gear up for emergency response

Staff Sgt. Tonya Bass of the 920th Mission Support Group radios her unit control center for assistance with an injured Airman in a simulated chemically contaminated environment during the wing’s Mission Assurance Exercise Feb. 12 at Patrick Air Force Base, Fla. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Brandon Kalloo Sanes)

Staff Sgt. Tonya Bass of the 920th Mission Support Group radios her unit control center for assistance with an injured Airman in a simulated chemically contaminated environment during the wing’s Mission Assurance Exercise Feb. 12 at Patrick Air Force Base, Fla. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Brandon Kalloo Sanes)

Staff Sgt. Tonya Bass of the 920th Mission Support Group helps an injured Airman to safety in a simulated chemically contaminated environment while 920th Rescue Wing Inspector General Inspections team members evaluate her during the wing’s Mission Assurance Exercise Feb. 12 at Patrick Air Force Base, Fla. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Brandon Kalloo Sanes)

Staff Sgt. Tonya Bass of the 920th Mission Support Group helps an injured Airman to safety in a simulated chemically contaminated environment while 920th Rescue Wing Inspector General Inspections team members evaluate her during the wing’s Mission Assurance Exercise Feb. 12 at Patrick Air Force Base, Fla. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Brandon Kalloo Sanes)

A 920th Rescue Wing Airman washes the boots of an aircrew member processing through the  aircrew contamination control area during the wing’s Mission Assurance Exercise Feb. 12 at Patrick Air Force Base, Fla. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Brandon Kalloo Sanes)

A 920th Rescue Wing Airman washes the boots of an aircrew member processing through the aircrew contamination control area during the wing’s Mission Assurance Exercise Feb. 12 at Patrick Air Force Base, Fla. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Brandon Kalloo Sanes)

Citizen Airmen with the 920th Rescue Wing work together to decontaminate aircrew members processing through the aircrew contamination control area during the wing’s Mission Assurance Exercise Feb. 12 at Patrick Air Force Base, Fla. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Brandon Kalloo Sanes)

Citizen Airmen with the 920th Rescue Wing work together to decontaminate aircrew members processing through the aircrew contamination control area during the wing’s Mission Assurance Exercise Feb. 12 at Patrick Air Force Base, Fla. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Brandon Kalloo Sanes)

PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Airmen of the 920th Rescue Wing have cause for celebration after successfully accomplishing a wing-wide Mission Assurance Exercise Feb. 12.

The four-hour exercise, which evaluated the unit’s emergency response efforts to a wide array of threats to military personnel and equipment, was in preparation for a larger scale inspection later this year; however, Air Force Reserve Command Inspector General evaluators were satisfied with the wing’s performance and will no longer require them to demonstrate a readiness event during the July Capstone inspection.

The exercise was broken down into several objectives which included events geared toward emergency management; antiterrorism efforts; and chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear high yield explosive responses.

According to the ground rules, participants were predominantly made up of individuals who are new to the Air Force and those who have not been deployed within the past seven years.

After a hiatus of approximately five years, and with five months of preparation, the unit worked together to tackle the simulated threats as they occurred in real-world time.

“Seeing all the departments working together for a common goal and seeing the camaraderie was very rewarding,” said Maj. Nicholas Philpitt, 920th RW IGI chief.

Teams of Airmen took on a number of challenges throughout the day. Some teams guarded doorways and secured areas, while others scoured the base to report mock explosives. Groups of Airmen were also tasked with scrupulously analyzing test strips that are capable of detecting various airborne hazards.

Toward the end of the exercise, dozens of Airmen reported to a decontamination area where they went through various scenarios relating to CBRNE attacks. Contaminated personnel moved through check points that consisted of various cleaning measures which included the use of sprays, sanitation wipes and the application of a powder substance.

Maj. Michael Conrad, a pilot with the 301st Rescue Squadron, played the role of a contaminated victim. He said that despite the heat, it was worthwhile because the busy day ensured that the unit could respond effectively to any scenario.

Wing leadership echoed Conrad’s emphasis on the importance of exercises such as this and said they were happy with the results.

“Things went very well,” said Col. Brett Howard 920 RQW vice commander. “Any time there is an exercise of this size we identify things we need to improve. Everything we learned will allow us to better our response capabilities as we move forward.”