Putting rescue and response skills to the test at MS Air National Guard Combat Readiness Center

It’s every airline passenger’s worst nightmare, a crash landing, and it all unfolded in Gulfport today at the Mississippi Air National Guard’s Combat Readiness Training Center.

The site of a crash landing as the wounded pray for help, some barely clinging to life, in situations where seconds can mean the difference between life and death. Chief Demetrius Baldwin said, “Seconds matter. Early intervention, that’s what we do. We just want to make sure the quicker we can get that information via the air traffic controllers, the quicker we can get that information out to the community and their responders.”

And the skills of emergency workers and first responders put to the ultimate test at the scene of this disaster, fortunately it was only a training exercise, but one taken very seriously. Gulfport-Biloxi Regional Airport Authority Director of Operations and Maintenance Casey Lyons said, “After the drill is over, each entity who is responding has an assigned evaluator, and that evaluator is familiar with the responsibilities of that particular agency and they go through a checklist and kind of check off to see what worked and what didn’t work and from there we go back to the table to possibly revise the plan if necessary or change procedures for each entity so we can have a better response in the event of an emergency.”

First responders from more than ten agencies throughout South Mississippi came out for this training exercise which is mandatory at least every three years. Harrison County Fire Chief Pat Sullivan said, “This is invaluable. Thank the Good Lord we don’t have accidents at the airport very often, but when we do have them, they are very serious and it takes a coordinated effort by all agencies to come together and work together.”

Overall assessment according to the CRTC Fire Chief, didn’t quite pass with flying colors, but that’s not the point behind these mock accidents and training exercises. “On a one to ten scale, I would give us a good, solid six. I wouldn’t want to shoot for a 10 because there’s so much room to grow, and some things we need to work out with our community partners so we can continue to get better at doing what we do.”

Categories: Featured, Harrison County, Local News, News

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