Local agencies work together during training exercise

Posted at 7:44 PM, Feb 20, 2014
and last updated 2014-02-20 19:44:30-05

Crews were on the move Thursday, all part of a drill to enhance their training, readiness and response during a real aircraft emergency.

"It's something that we don't like to think about, but we have to think about it," said U.S. Army LTC Jamie Efaw, Deputy Joint Base Commander Little Creek-Fort Story.

The Navy, the Coast Guard, and several local city emergency responders joined forces and took action at the scene of a mock fiery and deadly plane crash at Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story.  Authorities put out flames and tended to victims after the plane clipped a nearby tower on base and crashed during the mock drill.  Nightingale and Virginia Beach helicopters were also on hand to transport victims by air for treatment during the exercise.

"We try to set up our scenarios based on reality. We try to train like we fight," said District Fire Chief Ken Snyder of the Navy Region Mid-Atlantic Fire and Emergency Services.

Crews participated in Exercise Solid Curtain - Citadel Shield 2014.  The exercises are conducted on naval bases and installations throughout the United States through the end of February.  Here in Hampton Roads, it was a coordinated effort among agencies to prepare them for real emergencies that we have seen in our area before, such as the Jet Crash in 2012 at the Mayfair Mews Apartments and the Navy helicopter and Navy F/A-18E Super Hornet Jet crashes in January.

"None of us can do it alone. Our relationships with our outside partners, you know, I can't say how valuable it is," said Chief Snyder.

"Every day we interact with these people, but it's a great opportunity, too, for the organizations that are outside of the base to come in and work those things that we've talked about or we've done table top exercises, and actually get out there, work together hand-in-hand, side-by-side - exercise the things we've talked about," said LTC Efaw.

And that's what officials worked hard to do, to make practice perfect in the event a real aircraft emergency occurs.

"God forbid something that happens, but if it happens, we want to be ready and we don't want to have seen it for the first time when it actually happens," said LTC Efaw.