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Navy, first responders train for responding to a jet crash

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Posted at 2:44 PM, Mar 01, 2021

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - Nearly nine years ago a Navy F/A 18 jet crashed into the Mayfair Mews Apartments off Birdneck Road. The incident remains on the minds of those who responded to the scene and now they are turning it into a lesson.

"Every day I think about the Good Friday miracle," said Bob Geis, who was the Commanding Officer of Naval Air Station at the time.

Geis spoke in front of Sailors and first responders from Chesapeake and Virginia Beach on Monday as they train on responding to an incident like a jet crash. He stressed the importance of the training as no one died or was seriously hurt in the 2012 crash.

"I think that response was directly related to the training we had done previously - the ability to come together on a chaotic scene like that and be able to get organization and then go in and fight that fire - that's about training," said Geis.

The training is held every couple of years, officials said. "This is like a car accident with all this extra stuff on it - all these hazards that our firefighters and EMS providers and even police need to be prepared for," said Kenneth Snyder, the District Fire Chief of NAS Oceana.

The Navy has mutual aid agreements with local cities, meaning whoever is closest will respond first to an incident like a jet crash. "The crashes actually happen in our cities and we have to be able to react," said Virginia Beach Fire Chief David Hutchinson.

Because the crash happened about nine years ago, many of the Sailors or first responders who were at the scene of Mayfair Mews may have moved on. The training is meant to help teach a new generation. "It's good for me to see the size and scope of the incident, how many departments are involved, and to always wear your breathing protection," said Virginia Beach Firefighter John Mason, who had never been on base at NAS Oceana prior to Monday.