By Tech. Sgt. Ray Bowden
21st Space Wing Public Affairs
Peterson Airmen and key wing civilians found themselves maintaining 24-hour operations as the installation’s 2009 Operational Readiness Inspection shifted into high gear at 8 a.m., April 9, following a simulated explosion at the 21st Space Wing headquarters building.
Col. Jay Raymond, 21st Space Wing commander, was listed as one of the “killed” in the incident, a exercise situation which saw Col. Wayne Monteith, 21st SW vice commander, assume command.
“Leadership is crucial at all levels,” said Colonel Monteith. “I have no doubt we’ll continue to show our inspection team that we can adapt to any scenario they put forth.”
To complicate matters, Peterson emergency personnel responded to an actual fire which consumed two second story rooms. At least three adjacent rooms were damaged by water from the fire suppression sprinkler system.
“We were wrapping up our [exercise] response to the headquarters building, conducting a de-brief with the IG when we had to drop everything and break away for the fire,” said Tech. Sgt. Tony Hayne, 21st Civil Engineer Squadron fire team chief.
Another exercise scenario involved a suspicious package found near Peterson’s military personnel and finance facility. Explosive Ordnance Division personnel responded and simulated detonating the item.
“I’m proud of our team,” said Lt. Col. Gary Schneider, 21st Civil Engineer Squadron commander. “Their near-simultaneous response just highlights the quality of our first responder training and is clear evidence of our ability to get the job done.”
There is no doubt more challenges will arise as the ORI progresses but overall, Team Peterson seems ready.
“We’re ready by far,” said Staff Sgt. Joseph Payne, 21st Security Forces Squadron plans and programs noncommissioned officer in charge. “From our leadership’s backing and encouragement to our training, we know we can handle it. It’s not the end of the world.
Sergeant Hayne concurs and said that Peterson has prepared to the point where any type of response, be it real world or part of the inspection, is instinctual.
“As a wing, we’re fully prepared. We’re all integrated; whether fire response, security forces, medics or others, we know what to do,” he said. “It’s definitely a one-team, one fight mentality.”