Colorado Springs Military Newspaper Group

Peterson Space Observer

Wing tackles Condor Crest challenges

(U.S. Air Force photo/Lea Johnson) Personnel from the Peterson fire department administer medical care to an individual who was trapped under a vehicle during an exercise scenario Oct. 26, 2011. The entrapment exercise was one of several smaller scenarios to evaluate response to the wing’s existing emergency plans.

By Lea Johnson

21st Space Wing Public Affairs staff writer

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — Team Pete proved they’re prepared to handle anything during last week’s Condor Crest exercise.

According to Bill Edwards, Exercise Evaluation Team chief, training for quarterly exercises happens every day. “We evaluate the wing’s existing emergency plans, deployment plans and the integrated defense plans to make sure that the plans we put in place work and that the folks (who) work on Peterson understand them and can execute them,” he said.

It takes two months to plan one week of exercise scenarios. Edwards said he comes up with the overall theme for the exercise and then the EET, consisting of approximately 160 personnel, develop challenging, realistic scenarios to test the wing’s plans.

The quarterly exercise, held Oct. 24-28, included a food-borne biological contaminant in strawberries and cantaloupes from the commissary that sent 90 people to the clinic.

The other main scenario was a local terrorist cell placed an explosive device in the 21st Space Wing Headquarters’ building, Edwards said. “Those were the two major goals of the exercise — to evaluate our disease containment plan and our response to a terrorist use of explosives.”

Other scenarios included a gunman in the security forces facility, a vehicle accident near the East Gate and a confined space rescue in a 302nd Airlift Wing’s C-130. Under the direction of Col. Chris Crawford, 21st Space Wing commander, Edwards also scheduled one day of 24-hour operations.

Scenarios are evaluated on a scale. “We’re looking for impromptu, honest responses to an unknown event,” Edwards said.

The EET notes critical, significant and minor deficiencies. “Critical means you could lose your life or the mission fails. Significant is a significant impact to the mission or you could get hurt,” Edwards said. Minor deficiencies are those that pose a safety hazard but did not affect the exercise scenario.

“We also look for strengths, the good that the wing does,” he said. “We have professional performers and professional teams, people who went above and beyond the standard, did something that saved the government time or money.”

Individuals who are recognized as a professional performer or part of a professional team are named in the final report to Crawford.

A few real-world situations often arise in the midst of the exercise. “The wing does a good job separating the two but they continue working both. They didn’t cancel the exercise just because there was a real-world incident,” Edwards said.

The wing’s geographically separated units also evaluate their emergency preparedness by participating in the exercise, he said. “Each of the geographically separated units followed the primary theme but they developed their own local issues.”

Edwards said the 21st Space Wing did very well. “Day to day they may get one or two small emergencies to handle but we throw everything at them to make them understand that one day there could be a plane crash on top of a heart attack victim on top of a bad storm that’s coming,” he said. “We threw a lot of material at them and they handled it very well.”

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