MOODY AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. --
The 23rd Wing conducted a Major Accident Response Exercise at Moody Air Force Base and an off-base location in Echols County, Georgia, April 19, 2022.
This exercise, which simulated a helicopter crash with downed aircrew, tested communication and response of Moody Airmen in a major accident situation.
“We (Moody) practice these exercises to make sure that if something does happen, we know where we need to be and everyone knows who they're going to be talking to,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Christopher Bridges, 23rd Wing inspector general.
A major accident would require response from a multitude of agencies including first responders, the safety office, maintenance squadrons and security forces, as well as establishing an emergency operations center.
With this many agencies involved, proper and clear communication is essential in scenarios involving recovery efforts because every second counts in preserving life and assets.
“The overall goal is to make sure everyone is on the same sheet of music,” Bridges said. “With anything, the first thing that breaks down is communication. If we can get the communication piece right, make sure everyone’s running their checklist appropriately and not working too fast, we can make responses to mishaps much better and more effective.”
Along with testing communication, these exercises highlight areas that need improvement and wing safety holds a big piece of ensuring a full and proper investigation is completed.
After the incident, safety's job is to collect, protect and preserve evidence.
“We’ll take pictures, if anyone witnessed or was a part of it, we’ll take interviews, and we try to preserve the evidence as much as possible for a safety investigation board,” said Capt. Phillip White, 23rd Wing chief of flight safety. “They will come from other wings and their job is to look at not just the mishap, but the entire environment from training to maintenance.”
Safety’s role in the investigation is crucial to why an incident happened and what can be done to prevent mishaps in the future.
In addition to testing agency responses, these exercises help the 23rd Wing improve their procedures in preparation for a real-world scenario.
“Anything in the military, practice makes perfect,” White said. “That’s what we’re trying to do here, making sure we practice so when we have a worst-case situation, we’re as best prepared for it as we can be.”