Military and Civilian rehearse catastrophe response

19 Nov 2001 | Sgt. Arthur Stone

Military fire and rescue workers from Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune and Marine Corps Air Station New River joined forces with their civilian counterparts from Onslow County at Albert J. Ellis Airport Nov. 17 to assist in an emergency response exercise conducted by the airport.

The exercise scenario, which involved the response of approximately 25 emergency response agencies and organizations, focused on the simulated crash of a passenger aircraft, according to Onslow County Administration special projects officer, Lori Brill, of Jacksonville.

At least 40 to 50 emergency response vehicles and 150 to 175 emergency response personnel participated with representatives from local fire, rescue, emergency medical services, law enforcement, crisis response counseling, public information, safety, and the incident command and control system. 

The Federal Aviation Administration requires airports to hold an emergency response exercise every three years in order to maintain airport certification.  The purpose of the exercise was to test the airport and local emergency response agencies' ability to handle a major accident at the airport.

During the exercise simulation the Military-Civilian Task Force for Emergency Response (MCTFER) organization activated to establish incident command and control during the exercise.

The MCTFER enhances a mutual-aid relationship in emergency services among Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, Onslow County and all municipalities. Organizations that are a part of the task force include Marine Corps Air Station New River's Aircraft, Firefighting and Rescue, Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune's Provost Marshal Office and Emergency Medical Services, Onslow County's volunteer fire and rescue units, the Red Cross, Salvation Army and North Carolina Forestry Service.

"You cannot weigh the importance of this.  It's important to the extreme, and it's a required recertification by the FAA." said Master Gunnery Sgt. Philip Molloy III, Commander of the Special Incident Response Team (SIRT) and a communication security management chief with II Marine Expeditionary Force Headquarters Group.

Molloy said that first responders are very important during serious incidents as most of Onslow County's fire and rescue squads are comprised of volunteers and a majority of these are active duty military.  These were some of the first on the scene during the drill.

The mutual-aid responses have been used to manage several major events in the past, such as a mass casualty event at Sneads Ferry, N.C., and a crash of a military ambulance.