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A.V. CRASH TEST MULTIAGENCY DRILL GAUGES RESPONSE TO THREAT.

Byline: Jim Skeen Staff Writer

CALIFORNIA CITY - In a major multiagency exercise, emergency teams from Edwards Air Force Base, California City and Kern County were tested in how they would react to an Air Force transport aircraft hitting a remote desert home.

Testing how well military and civilian personnel could work together, the exercise involved some 80 personnel from Edwards, Kern County Fire Department, California City police and fire departments, and Hall ambulance company.

``This tests the base's ability to respond to any kind of threat,'' said Richard Carlson, senior exercise planner for Edwards.

The exercise, with Edwards airmen playing the role of the casualties, was a complicated one involving the scenario of a C-5 Galaxy transport loaded with troops and munitions crashing into a home, killing four people and injuring 14.

Maj. Scott Brady, commander of Edwards' 95th Mission Support Squadron and one of five Edwards officers who could serve as an incident commander in a real disaster, said his initial response was that the exercise went very well.

He said he was pleased with the inter-agency cooperation, including the smooth exchange of the incident command.

``One of the highs was the cooperation with local authorities,'' Brady said.

Within the next two weeks, an exercise evaluation team will offer its own critique to the commanders. A written report will be made available to all of the base personnel.

The first to respond to the scene were California City's fire and police departments. One of the first tasks was to set up an incident command to coordinate rescue efforts, said Fire Chief Michael Antonucci Jr.

``They need to establish a good command from the beginning - if not it gets fragmented,'' Antonucci said. ``They did a good job of that.''

Brady said he was notified of the drill at 8:30 a.m. and reported to the battle staff - a group comprising 95th Air Base Wing Commander Col. Wendy Masiello and her support staff. As Air Base Wing commander, Masiello is in charge of the units that would respond in such an emergency, including security forces, medical personnel, and firefighters.

The battle staff briefed Brady on what they know - the aircraft type, the number of people on board, any munitions, and so forth.

``I'm their eyes and ears out here,'' Brady said.

A disaster control group was formed to handle the incident. In addition to representatives of the emergency response units such a and fire, the group also includes representatives of virtually every support unit on the base, including legal staff, a chaplain, and civil engineering.

Shortly after 10 a.m., Brady arrived at the exercise scene to take command from the civilian emergency crews.

After the exercise, a debriefing is held with the participants to go over what went right and what areas need improvement.

``The thing about an exercise is that it is a learning experience,'' Brady said.

Jim Skeen, (661) 267-5743

james.skeen(at)dailynews.com

CAPTION(S):

3 photos

Photo:

(1 -- color) Firefighters from Edwards Air Force Base wearing silver protective suits and a technician following check for ``radiation.''

(2 -- color) A response team checks volunteers from Edwards Air Force Base who acted as victims.

(3) A Kern County Fire Department helicopter flies over the drill site Wednesday in California City.

Jeff Goldwater/Staff Photographer
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Feb 12, 2004
Words:548
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