by Staff Sgt. Wayne Barnett
The ominous bulk of an Air Force C-130 sat at the end of the runway, smoke billowing from its fuselage. Strewn across the tarmac was a scene of carnage – smoldering aircraft parts and bodies.
Under the wail of sirens, firefighting personnel set about to try to extinguished the fire as emergency medical personnel assessed victims and set up a triage area. No, this wasn’t a scene out of some horrific movie, this was the scene at Butts Army Airfield April 6 as the full-scale U.S. Army Garrison Fort Carson exercise, dubbed “Mountain Thunder,” got under way.
“This exercise was designed to test the mass-casualty incident plan of all of Fort Carson’s services,” said Tom Joyce, Fort Carson Fire Department assistant chief of training.
With the emergency operations center manned by the leaders of those services and the casualty assistance center headed by Army Community Service, the stage was set to launch the exercise.
At 7 a.m. firefighters from the 60th Ordnance Company, 68th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 43rd Sustainment Brigade, set up the scenario.
Approximately 40 Soldiers from various units around the Mountain Post were made-up to portray victims.
“It’s very rarely we get to do something like this so it should be fun,” said Spc. Idiaman Melvin, 60th Ord., a “victim” at the exercise.
As the exercise came into full swing patients were assessed and transported to local hospitals, including Evans Army Community Hospital, where a triage center was set up outside the emergency room.
Key players in this scenario came from as far away as Denver, with the bulk of them coming from surrounding communities.
“It’s very exciting we get to participate in this exercise, and even though we don’t get paid, it does allow us a chance to earn points toward our career advancement,” said Dawn Hermance, an emergency medical technician with Action Care Transport.
Russ Roux, contingency planner, Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security, said he was impressed with the response from both Fort Carson and local responders.
“Overall I was delighted with the outcome of the exercise, especially with the participation by our community partners,” Roux said. “We had external evaluators who were subject-matter experts from various fire departments including those from Denver International Airport and Peterson Air Force Base who were more familiar with aircraft-type incidents. Our own fire and police departments did an excellent job. We are very appreciative of what we have internally here at Fort Carson. I feel safe here.”