Road Traffic Accident in Gornji Jasoc

2Lt. Agustín López Marín
First published in
SFOR Informer#157, February 6, 2003

Jan. 20, Multinational Brigade Southeast (MNB-SE) performed a Red Wheels exercise in the region of Mostar. This training sought to display and gauge emergency procedures in a crisis situation. Several units from the different MNB-SE nations were involved in dealing with the aftermath of a simulated road accident.

Gornji Jasoc - Due to the fact that this type of crisis situations is unexpected, every unit must be prepared to face any eventuality. That is the reason no one (except of course the planners of the exercise) knew in advance when and where Red Wheels will be played.
The Scenario
The accident occured in the vicinity of Gorni Jasoc, a small hamlet located about 30km south of Mostar.The Moroccan contingent planned a live fire-exercise for one of its platoons. When this unit, comprised of 13 troops, one Humvee and one truck, arrived on the range, the truck maneuvered into a parking place.The bad weather conditions and the poor conditions of the road caused the truck to slide down into the gully. Most of the soldiers were injured and and in shock. Nevertheless, the platoon leader could report to the Brigade Operational Centre in Europe Base (Mostar) the first details at 13:00. A watchkeeper authenticated the call and the Spanish French Battle Group (SPFR BG) was alerted. The place of the simulated accident was perfectly decorated and the make up of the role players realised by French Sgt. Christophe Gautier, a specialist in this domain.
Main intents
Spanish Maj. José Faura Salvador, G3 'Plans and Exercise' Chief, organized and checked the activity. "The concept of this exercise is to carry out a safety exercise, which will leave an increased proficiency in all the staff of MNB-SE Headquarters. It will also result in an improved emergency procedure for our units and assets. Furthermore, we have to validate CONPLAN (Contingency Plan) Aesculapius, developed to activate and deploy all the necessary assets of the Brigade. We have a complete medical evacuation chain for unforeseen emergency situations with mass casualties. Likewise, this activity represents an opportunity to train personnel reaction and co-ordination at all levels by activating MNB-SE emergency command and control structure," stated Faura.
The entire procedure was conducted under the coordination of the MNB-SE crisis cell, in liaison with the Advanced Command Post (ACP). Crisis cell reported to the Chief of Staff, which decided the activation of Aesculapius CONPLAN.
Fast deployment
Spanish Capt. Pedro Hidalgo Moya, Deputy Plans Officer of the BG, explained: "In this unannounced activity, the SPFR BG received from the MNB- SE at 13:08 a first warning about the accident with the location's grid coordinates. Automatically, according to the pre-established procedures, we activated a Reconnaissance team and sent it to the accident site in less than 30 minutes. We prepared the ACP and extra medical assets."
Spanish 1Lt. Benjamín Andrés Pintos, assigned to the 3rd platoon, Infantry Marine Company (IMC), commanded the Reconnaissance team. "We collected the necessary assets for this special unit, gathering different elements. When we arrived at the crash site at 14:15, everyone performed his missions. While medical squad ensured the first aid assistance, Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) team made an accurate mines clearance demarcating a secure area. A Signal squad allowed the continuous communication with the BG. A squad of the IMC provided escort to the convoy and secured the accident site, in order to prohibit the entrance of spectators; they also marked the helicopter landing site," said Andrés.
Staff Sgt. José Luis Cuevas Pérez, Guardia Civil Military Police, belonged to the Reconnaissance team. "The main missions of the Multinational Military Police (MMP) is to conduct the legal investigation report on the spot, with the identification of the victims and to regulate in the area the vehicles' movement and the victims' evacuation," emphasized Cuevas.
The medical intervention
The Spanish helicopter detachment prepared one Cougar helicopter for a casualty evacuation. While Capt. Adolfo Fernández Martín, pilot, received instructions and the coordination measures, the rest of the crew prepared the aircraft. "Our unit always has one helicopter with its crew ready to provide support in emergencies The second pilot, Staff Sgt. José García Solana and the mechanic, Sgt. 1st Class José María Díaz Sánchez, equipped the helicopter. The medical advanced team with their specific assets, one MMP and Master Sgt. Luis Mariano Manzanares Del Rio with a satellite terminal were ready to board. After a short while, the helicopter arrived to the crash site at 14:10. I kept liaison with the Medical Officer to know how many casualties we would have to transport and if it was necessary to activate another helicopter," stated Martín.
Spanish Capt. Pablo Montañés Garay was the Medical Incident Officer. "When my team arrived by helicopter to the crash site, we saw the tragedy of a truck plenty of injured people; screams of pain and anguish could be heard everywhere. We evaluated the situation and took over medical control. Helped by the advanced aid team, French Capt. Jean-François Orval, Sgt. Maj. Fabienne Dufour and Sgt. Maj. Fabien Celindano, the casualties were separated into three categories. One soldier was deceased, three severely injured and nine slightly wounded. With these information I advised MNB-SE to activate Aesculapius CONPLAN," explained Montañés.
Dufour added: "First, we tried to stabilise the severe victims and prepare them for the evacuation by helicopter to the designated medical facilities in Europe Base. Evaluators told us that one of the most wounded soldiers died. We could only evacuate the other two at 15:00, whilst the slightly injured were transported by ground ambulance to the Advanced Medical Post (AMP) at 15:20."
Near the crash site, two tents were pitched; one for the ACP, commanded by Hidalgo, and the other for the AMP.
The teachings
"Throughout this simulated situation, we checked if we were prepared to react immediately and with appropriate procedures and assets to an accident with several injured people. Testing coordination between the Operations Centre and the ACP, activating one ACP and one AMP. As a consequence of the evaluation, the result was very satisfactory. The road traffic accident was a really difficult task, but the teams succeeded. The multinational crisis cell worked efficiently and the involved units could improve their skills," concluded Faura.

Related links:
Nations of SFOR: France, Spain
Training and Exercises

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Photos: Sgt. Diego Ropero Pastor

The road traffic accident caused 13 casualties.


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Staff Sgt. Cuevas identifies the victims and gathers information about the accident.


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(From l. to r.) Master Sgt. Dufour, Master Sgt. Celindano and Cpt. Orval try to stabilise severely injured soldiers.


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Capt. Montañés (l.) prepares slightly wounded soldiers to be evacuated by ambulance.


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Time is of the essence for the severest casualties.


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The helicopter represents the best way to carry on a medical evacuation.


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Cap. Orval uses life-saving medical equipment to care for injured troops.


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Casualties were driven to the Advanced Medical Post to receive first health care.