National Guard rehearses response to major accident at PDX

  • Published
  • By Capt. Angela Walz
  • 142nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs
Air National Guardsmen at the 142nd Fighter Wing honed their skills during a major accident response exercise here May 19. The scenario called for base first responders to react to a simulated F-15 landing mishap at Portland International Airport (PDX) to test base command and control functions and their efficacies.

"Training is a foundation for everything we do, and these types of exercises ensure we have highly trained people who are available and ready - whether called upon to support state or federal contingency missions," said Col. Rick Wedan, 142nd Fighter Wing Commander.

The exercise focused on initial emergency response to preserve life and equipment, it ensured the base was capable of resuming its mission and appropriately handling information flow, but also included scenario input that affected operations for the Port of Portland. The Oregon Air National Guard unit, which resides adjacent to PDX, shares runway space with the Port of Portland.

"From a training perspective, this validated the wing's ability to handle a major accident response - but our greatest successes come from the improvements that will be integrated into our programs from the 'lessons learned' after the exercise" said Lt. Col. Bill Kopp, Wing Inspection Team Chief and the 142nd Fighter Wing Chief of Safety.

"If we stress ourselves during these training exercises, we're able to find and correct any deficiencies that might exist. It's about knowing that we can safely and effectively complete our mission regardless of what's going on around us," Kopp said.

The exercise also tested the wing's implementation and operation of an Emergency Operations Center, the federal government construct for agencies to execute command and control of emergency response. The EOC was formed under the Air Force Incident Management System, which was implemented Air Force-wide in December 2007.

AFIMS, which was introduced by Secretary of the Air Force Michael W. Wynne in 2006, brings Air Force operations in line with Homeland Security Presidential Directive 5, which calls for the establishment of a single, comprehensive national system for managing domestic incidents.

"We met all of our goals for this application of the EOC," said Col. Jeff Hwang, acting 142nd Fighter Wing Commander during the exercise. "We had a timely notification and arrival of all of our EOC components, and all the participants were able to exercise their roles and responsibilities for this incident." 

Colonel Hwang, who serves as the 142nd Fighter Wing Vice Commander, said the wing will continue practicing its emergency response through AFIMS and praised the efforts of the wing inspection team for challenging the Guardsmen throughout the exercise.

"Without the challenges and injects provided by the inspection team during the exercise, we wouldn't know what we don't know," said Hwang. "Our people are responsible for the success of our mission, and we have some of the best and most highly trained people in the world right here in Portland," he said.

About the 142nd Fighter Wing
As a vital asset to the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) and Air Combat Command, the 142nd Fighter Wing maintains 24-hour Aerospace Control Alert in the Pacific Northwest and provides air superiority mission capabilities as well. The wing supports drug interdiction, the United States Air Forces in Europe air defense, as well as contingency operations such as Operations Noble Eagle, Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. To complete these missions, four groups are assigned to the 142nd Fighter Wing: 142nd Maintenance Group, 142nd Operations Group, 142nd Mission Support Group and the 142nd Medical Group. In addition, the Portland, Oregon Air National Guard base is host to several tenant units.