Exercise tests new system
By Senior Airman Clay Murray, 75th Air Base Wing public affairs
/ Published August 21, 2007
HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah -- Exercises may be a standard thing in the military, but the methods to them are always under improvement.
At Hill Air Force Base, the Air Force Incident Management System has not been tested in the field before. The focus of the Aug. 7 exercise was to try out the soon to be implemented system.
"The purpose of the exercise was to validate the implementation of AFIMS on Hill AFB, and to ensure we had our emergency operations center working and Incident Command System out in the field working," said Eric Faucher, 75th Air Base Wing program analyst.
Two major emergency scenarios were built by the Hill AFB Exercise Evaluation Team for the exercise.
"We provided them with two robust scenarios," said Mr. Faucher. "(The exercise) seemed to be fairly successful.
"There were a few hiccups here and there," added Mr. Faucher, "but Team Hill is going to go through some growing pains for this program. Overall the units did an excellent job."
At the Base Operational Readiness Training Area, an F-16 Fighting Falcon crash was simulated at the fire department training area. Moulage victims were at the scene and fires were blazing at the crash site to add elements of realism.
A detonation was simulated at the Roy Gate by a 75th Security Forces Squadron member who was posing as a terrorist driving an unmarked blue truck. Moulage volunteers were also at the scene to provide realism.
"We had lots of moulage volunteers," said Mr. Faucher. "It helps the responders because they can see it. It doesn't look fake, and it's not a card that says, 'he's got a broken arm.'"
For the exercise players and the entire base, it is important to both receive good ratings and learn from the exercise.
"This exercise was a success for us on many levels," said Mike Monson, 775th Civil Engineer Squadron installation emergency manager. "As with all exercises, the real value here was in breaking down the things that weren't as strong as we needed them in order to grow them back stronger."
Positive results for the exercise can be attributed to both efficient training and real world situations.
"(Good ratings) are based on actual training in classrooms and on computers and during exercises," Mr. Faucher said. "That training and those real world events help Hill AFB to be ready so we're constantly in that mode."
AFIMS was implemented into the Department of Defense by a presidential directive. It aims to bridge the gap between civilian and military emergency response.
"The reason we went to AFIMS is because it's the same system that is used by civilian emergency responders," said Mr. Faucher. "After Sept. 11, 2001 we had problems communicating. The military uses different terms, but now we both use the same terms, and it will be easier when both military and civilian emergency responders work together responding to an incident."
With AFIMS set in place, confusion between parties is eliminated and emergency response becomes a smoother process.
"In a post-Katrina world, interoperability and multi-jurisdictional, multi-agency response are more than catch phrases; they really are the proverbial wave of the future," Mr. Monson said. "The problem that AFIMS solves is how do we - with an organizational response structure - work alongside off-base agencies with a function-based structure. The answer lies within the new emergency operations center."