Red Wing trains emergency aid in Mostar

Maj. Viktor Nikolla
First published March 26, 2003

On March 19, 2003, Multinational Brigade Southeast (MNB-SE) conducted the Red Wing exercise at Mostar Airport. The exercise was designed to validate how emergency procedures and emergency co-ordination work and to train personnel how to respond to an air crash at the airport.

Mostar - An aeroplane had just arrived and another one was expected to land. Although it was wintertime it was a warm day and seemed as if it was a summer day. At noon a light breeze began to blow. Slowly it was becoming stronger and stronger. Nobody could imagine that very soon it would cause a disaster.
The scene and behind the scene
A few minutes past 2 p.m. a Hercules C-130 with 26 passengers on board crashed upon landing due to gusty 'Bora' winds at the South - Southeast, between the runway and taxiway. It broke into pieces and started to burn. Massive black dense clouds of smoke rose into the sky and overwhelmed the airfield. The crash caused several casualties and the crew and passengers of the aeroplane were seriously injured. Fires were caused around the runways' surroundings. Screams of pain of wounded people could be heard everywhere.
The wounded passengers should be removed and treated. Fires should be extinguished. Normality should return to the airport. It was a situation that needed to execute the emergency response procedure. Fortunately, it was not real, this was only the scenario for the Red Wing exercise.
Immediate reaction
The fire fighter team from French Air Detachment (DETAIR) took the call from the Control Tower. They were the first on the spot, equipped with two tank trucks filled with water they began to treat the fires. "Our task is to extinguish the fire, and after it to detect the victims," said French WO2 Didier Weber, leader of the fire fighter team.
The GSAN (Groupement sanitaire, Medic Team) then arrived at the crash site and quickly began administering first aid to the injured people. Meanwhile, near the crash site, a tent was pitched. It was the medical advanced post (MAP), which filled the role of a field hospital. After first aid, injured people would be evacuated from the crash site to the MAP for further treatment. Military police deployed a safety cordon in order to secure the crash site. They were performing their tasks by checking vehicles and preventing non-concerned people from getting into the operational area.
Participants belonging to the five nations from MNB-SE (French, German, Italian, Moroccan and Spanish) they were all part of different teams. Even though it was an international environment they had the same standard operating instructions and each element of the teams was calm and carried out its business in a professional manner.
Spanish Maj. José Molino was in charge of the execution of the exercise. He said: "In order to be a successful exercise it is very important for every player to act in accordance with the emergency procedure. It is necessary to exercise so that if a plane crashes in reality we are prepared."
Did the exercise reach its objective? Did the normality come back at the airport? Was it a success? Without any doubt. The DETAIR team, still in charge with all the safety, security and medical aspects in Mostar Airport, is ready to answer to any incident occurring there. One day, it will be the turn of the local authorities.

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

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Photos: Sgt. Toni McDowell

The state of the injured and the treatment they receive must be accurately recorded.


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After the fire has been extinguished, the fire fighters help to identify the victims of the crash.


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Members of the fire fighter team work to extinguish a fire near the crash site.


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Members of medical teams perform first aid to the victims in an open field.