Keesler students participate in local airport exercise

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Kurstyn Canida
  • 81st Training Wing Public Affairs

81st Training Group students recently volunteered in a disaster exercise at Gulfport - Biloxi International Airport, to test the readiness and emergency response capabilities of airport personnel and local first responders.

Team Keesler’s moulage artists supported this event by applying simulated injuries to the student volunteers, who acted as the plane crash victims. The Airmen were strategically placed in locations around the crash site and were given instructions to act out their injuries to test the readiness of emergency personnel.

“Having these live patient volunteers that you can triage, move and load up with different types of injuries is crucial, as it gives a better representation of what responders could face in the field.” said Ryan McClellan, Gulfport Combat Readiness Training Center deputy fire chief.

These exercises are a tri-annual requirement by the Federal Aviation Administration and vital to response readiness.

“Our full-scale disaster exercise simulates the worst aircraft scenario we could experience,” John Sharp, Gulfport Biloxi International Airport operations manager explained. “When an accident of that scale happens, we’re experiencing mass casualties, a variety of victims and we have to make sure everyone feels confident in what steps to take.”

Keesler and the local community often collaborate together on emergency preparedness exercises, like for the biannual air show. Being able to work seamlessly with different agencies for emergency preparedness remains a top priority.

“The benefits for us conducting the exercise and working with the 23 different participating organizations increases the odds of everyone having a quick, safe response, maximizing our capabilities to save people and protect the environment if a similar real event occurs,” said William Mays, 81st Training Wing inspection team manager.

Collaborating with local responders provided multiple opportunities for Airmen to see how personnel inside and outside the military work together to ensure rescue efforts are coordinated, while also helping them feel safer in the air.

“When people fly, they know we’ve gone through these exercises, and they should be safe in a real-world scenario,” said Sharp. “In the event it happens, we’re going to do our best to be prepared.”