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First responders exercise readiness

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Duncan McElroy
  • 81st Training Wing Public Affairs

The 81st Training Wing, 403rd Wing and outside agencies conducted an anti-hijacking exercise June 21 here.

A 403rd Wing WC-130J Super Hercules played the role of the hijacked aircraft where a crew member took hostages and taxied down the flight line in an attempt to take off. Keesler used the exercise to test and maintain its units’ abilities to react and respond to a developing situation.

“Training like this provides an opportunity to respond to an event where no loss of life or equipment will occur,” said Bill Mays, 81st TRW Inspector General inspection team manager. “During the exercise, the various response agencies can evaluate their personnel and adjust training to ensure their people are trained to handle any disaster event, manmade or natural.”

To ensure readiness across the base, Mays tries to ensure as many units as possible can participate in the exercise.

“One of the biggest items I pay attention to are called second- and third-order events,” he said. “If the training scenario calls for a role player to “die” during an incident, we’re not only assessing how they respond but how the different support agencies – like finance, force support, public affairs and more – handle that development.”

By developing exercises in conjunction with tenant units like the 403rd Wing and 85th Engineering Installation Squadron, both Keesler and local civilian incident responders and support agencies have a chance to fulfill training requirements and learn new skills. From hostage negotiation and assault teams to on-scene medical and ground safety personnel, almost everyone gets a chance to learn something.

“Exercises are always a great opportunity for us, our tenant units and civilian partners to work together,” Mays said. “This one in particular was because it allowed us to fulfill our training requirement even though we don’t have a flying mission.”