By 1st Lt. Luis Sanchez
First published in
SFOR Informer#117, July 11, 2001
Crisis situations do not call in advance. Are
you prepared to deal with any eventuality? For instance, what
happens if you are involved in an air crash? Like this one!
- The Multinational Division South-East (MND-SE) has undertaken
Exercise Red Wing in order to display and gauge its emergency
procedures in a crisis situation, simulating an aeroplane crash
at Mostar Airport. The training involved a wide range of activities,
from medical to de-mining assets.
It was nine o'clock in the morning, there was nothing significant
to report in the airfield; suddenly an aircraft, a C-130 Hercules,
made an emergency landing due to an unknown cause. The Mostar
aerodrome control tower from the French Air Detachment (DETAIR)
took control of the situation and gave the alarm, starting the
emergency procedures for this situation.
The unlucky plane came crashing down on the south end of the runway,
broken into pieces and started to burn. Smoky columns rose skyward,
and scattered around the runway's surroundings. Some passengers
and crew were fatally injured. Screams of pain and anguish could
be heard everywhere. But that is not all! In addition, the crash
area could be a possible minefield. Thank God it was not real,
only the scenario for Exercise Red Wing.
The exercise staff is comprised of personnel from the five nationalities
in the MND- SE (French, German, Italian, Moroccan and Spanish),
integrated into different teams. In an international environment,
the fact that the whole contingent has the same standard operating
instructions is vital.
kind of exercise allows us to check how emergency procedures work
and how they can be improved. This is the first time in MND-SE
that so many teams are involved," said Spanish Maj. Juan
Rodriguez Ferro, MND-SE Headquarters G5 Plans and Operations.
This simulated situation was aimed at validating and applying
MND-SE emergency plans and procedures, training personnel reaction,
testing co-ordination between the Operation Centre and the Advanced
Command Post (ACP), activating one ACP and one Medical Advanced
Post (MAP), and finally evaluating them.
away, the smoke from the wreckage reported a tragedy. Sounds of
emergency sirens swamped the air. Only three minutes later, three
trucks of the fire brigade arrived at full speed at the crash
area; in the twinkling of an eye the fire was extinguished. Behind
them, the first aid team from DETAIR was deployed in the crash
site. The Medical Incident Officer evaluated the situation and
took over medical control. Casualties were triaged by priority
and separated into three categories. At the crash site, two tents
were pitched, the ACP and the MAP. New assets arrived, the Military
Police deployed a safety cordon, co-ordinating with DETAIR security,
along with one Explosive and Ordnance Disposal (EOD) team with
a double mission: recover casualties and the "black box"
of the aircraft, both inside the minefield. They started to clean
a mine corridor as well as delimiting a security perimeter around
the crash site. "It is really good to practise in this context
for real, integrating procedures and working together," commented
Spanish 2nd Lt. Luis Parra San Jose, EOD team commander.
whole procedure was under the co-ordination of the DETAIR ACP
chief, French Lt. Col Sylvain Guillemain. "This kind of training
is very important. We should go on doing this kind of exercise,
at least once every two months. Soldiers change around and here
in Mostar aircraft land with 150 passengers on board, and you
need to be prepared," he said.
At this point everybody could see the paramount importance of
communication and its proper use. Meanwhile medical teams (French,
German, and Moroccan) carried crash victims on stretchers to the
MAP, which looks like a field hospital. Casualties were treated
by doctors, unfortunately some passengers died (of course not!
only those who were playing that role). "The main point is
the medical issue and the co-ordination," commented Guillemain.
was at this time that another element appeared, local journalists
looking for news. It is obvious that such an event like this could
not pass unnoticed and the local press was there in a hurry. This
was the mission of the Public Information Office (PIO) MND-SE
to deal with the press and inform the journalists. The PIO answered
media queries in a reactive posture in accordance with the evolution
of the events, throughout its spokesperson, Press Releases and
Press Conferences, always taking into consideration that information
at that moment was very critical and important.
The air crash was a really difficult task, but they succeeded.
The casualties were evacuated to more appropriate medical facilities;
the situation was under control and finally air traffic was restored
at the international airport Mostar-Ortijes, normality was back.
But this is only the beginning of a new kind of exercise. "In
this practice inter-nationality has not been an obstacle, the
multinational crisis cell worked very well," commented German
Capt. Jens Hahne, G5 Plans and Operations. "We are planning
more exercises like this, involving many assets, Search and Rescue
training and not only in the Camp, but also across the whole of
the MND-SE area."
Related link: Training