Air crash exercise in Mostar
by Cpl. Chief Olivier Bureau
First published in SFOR Informer # 49, November 25, 1998
Mostar- An air crash rescue exercise was held November 13 at Camp Mostar Ortijes. Sometime after its takeoff, a CH-53 helicopter crashed and burned. The scenario of the mock incident also involved the ejection of 30 passengers.
Approximately 150 soldiers were involved in the exercise, of which 100 came from medical teams, the other 50 were from various units throughout the Theatre. "All rescue and security teams of the Mostar Ortijes airfield are involved in this exercise," said Col. Laborit who planned the exercise.
The first part of the operation was to extinguish the fire. Firemen, who are some of the first people on the spot, are equipped with two tank trucks, one filled with water, the other filled with foam.
After the fire has been extinguished, the rescue and medical teams intervene in order to evacuate the wounded. Thirty soldiers of the Command and Support Regiment are involved in this role. Each has a different injury. It has to be as realistic as possible. First on the spot for the medical portion are the men of the Rapace Cell from the Air Detachment (DETAIR).
Their job is to begin to sort and evacuate wounded soldiers. But there is an additional problem--the crash area is in a suspected mine field. So, French engineers had to intervene. They have to clear an evacuation path. While they were checking the ground, a tent is put up to serve as the forward headquarters. Only 10 minutes are needed for this operation.
A few metres further, a Spartacus flat aerial is set up. "It's a satellite link with the HQ, in case the normal network fails," explained Spc. Norgues of the divisional transmission unit (DTU), chief of the Spartacus station.
Once the evacuation is completed, the wounded soldiers are taken to the advanced surgical centre. First, they are placed in tents in order to determine the severity of their wounds, before being sent to the right services.
Nearby, the administration command of the Surgical Medical Company (CCM) is supposed to "co-ordinate all communications between the operations centre, the communication centre and the rescue teams that are still on the scene," said Lt. Olivier Bourdet, administrative officer of the medical corps.
All the medical work is done by the CCM. Even the most seriously injured soldiers are going to be operated on in this hospital. At this point, the exercise was over--mission accomplished.