Bad case scenario plays out on the runway (VIDEO)

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Laura Stetser/Members of the Atlantic City International Airport Fire Department respond to the hypothetical scenario in which multiple injuries and a fatality are reported from aircraft collisions. Laura Stetser/Members of the Atlantic City International Airport Fire Department respond to the hypothetical scenario in which multiple injuries and a fatality are reported from aircraft collisions.

Coast Guard, FAA and 177th Fighter Wing unit run coordinated training exercise

EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP – It was a bad case scenario right from the jump. An F16 pilot from the Air National Guard’s 177th Fighter Wing needed rescuing from the Atlantic Ocean by the U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Atlantic City on a blustery, bitter cold winter day.

But then the situation took an even worse turn as the Coast Guard rescue helicopter collided with a Federal Aviation Administration research plane that was taxiing out on the runway just as helicopter was returning with the injured pilot.

The crash caused multiple injuries, including severe head traumas and multiple broken bones among the occupants. The Atlantic City International Airport Fire Department arrived with multiple pieces of equipment, not knowing what to expect.

Laura Stetser/Coast Guard gunner’s mates signal distress with flares. Laura Stetser/Coast Guard gunner’s mates signal distress with flares.

The only fortunate aspect of this seemingly dire situation was that it was totally hypothetical.

The scenario played out Tuesday, Feb. 11 as part of a hands-on mishap training exercise coordinated by the Coast Guard. The FAA, National Guard and the Atlantic City International Airport jumped on board to offer their crews a chance to test their response to such a catastrophic set up should one occur.

The training was a unique opportunity for these agencies, which operate in close proximity every day, to figure out how their independent procedures would be followed in an accident scene that involved multiple agencies.

“Today's exercise was a great opportunity to test our response procedures in the event of an aircraft mishap,” said Capt. Peter Mingo, the commanding officer of Coast Guard station. “In spite of the cold weather, we had great success in carrying out our objectives and strengthening our interagency partnerships.”

 Col. Kenny Gentry, the commander of the 177th Fighter Wing unit, said the officers would do a “hot wash,” or initial debriefing of the scenario later that day, but in a real-life situation, the investigation would take a lot longer.

“The crash site would need to be secured and there would be a crash site investigation into what caused the incident. That could take upwards of 30 days to complete. The one we simulated happened over water, which would add to complexity to it. So, the initial response shown today was very small part of what would actually go on.”

While the agencies conduct annual tabletop scenarios, it has been two years since they conducted a hands-on training situation, Mingo said.

Laura Stetser/Members of the Atlantic City International Airport Fire Department respond to the hypothetical scenario in which multiple injuries and a fatality are reported from aircraft collisions. Laura Stetser/Members of the Atlantic City International Airport Fire Department respond to the hypothetical scenario in which multiple injuries and a fatality are reported from aircraft collisions.

Laura Stetser/United States Coast Guard Air Station Atlantic City Capt. Pete Mingo and Federal Aviation Administration flight test pilot Lorry Faber answer questions about the drill. Laura Stetser/United States Coast Guard Air Station Atlantic City Capt. Pete Mingo and Federal Aviation Administration flight test pilot Lorry Faber answer questions about the drill.

 


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