HILL AIR FORCE BASE — As he wandered around the flight line with what appeared to be severe burns on his right arm, neck and face, Kevin Marshall looked like he was in shock.
All around him were other people with apparent injuries, most of them lying on the ground, screaming.
An F-16 fuselage, with smoke coming from under the downed fighter jet, sat in the middle of a circle of people pleading for help.
“I was in a daze, wandering around, waiting for someone to attend to me,” Marshall said.
The gruesome scene, albeit totally fake, was part of Wednesday’s simulated aircraft accident organized by Hill Air Force Base officials and local emergency responders. By holding the mock accident, emergency crews prepared for what they hope will not happen at the upcoming “Warriors Over the Wasatch” open house and air show.
“We always train for the worst-case scenario,” Maj. Rob Baran said. “We want to make sure we can handle anything thrown our way.”
The scenario involved a mid-air collision of two performing aircrafts. One of the aircrafts crashed into the crowd at HAFB and the other went down at the Clearfield Job Corps Center. Responders also arrived in Clearfield to attend to those mock victims of the simulated downed aircraft.
“Today’s exercise went well,” said Lt. Col. Juris Jansons, 75th Operations Squadron commander and this year’s open house and air show coordinator. “We got exactly what we were hoping for. Our first responders got great training. We were able to work with our local community first responders, and we continued to refine our ability to deal with any regional contingency.”
The open house and air show, scheduled for Memorial Day weekend, May 26-27, will bring an estimated 400,000 people to HAFB. Many of them will stand directly on the flight line, where Wednesday’s exercise took place.
Marshall, 20, who is an airman first class on base, said the responders did a good job of giving aid to the victims, all of whom had makeup applied to give them the appearance of being seriously injured.
“I didn’t think it would be this good,” said Marshall, who also was made up to look like he had several bruises on his face.
Baran said 75 emergency responders participated at HAFB and a total of nearly 100 casualties took part at HAFB and the Clearfield Job Corps Center. All together, 500 people were involved in the exercise.
Exercise victims who would have been severely wounded were transported to Davis Hospital and Medical Center, Ogden Regional Medical Center and Lakeview Hospital. That also tested the hospitals’ ability to accommodate multiple seriously injured victims brought in at the same time.
Jansons said the skills practiced by the emergency responders are applicable to any sort of regional contingency.
HAFB officials reviewed the exercise Wednesday afternoon, and Jansons plans to use what he learned to help with others who coordinate air shows.
“The purpose of an open house and air show is not only to show the public the Air Force mission, but also the training and professionalism of our airmen,” Jansons said. “The nature of what we do has some inherent dangers, and this planning and exercising for an improbable worst-case scenario is testament to our airmen’s training and professionalism.”