CAMP BONIFAS, Republic of Korea --
Firefighters from the 51st Civil Engineer Squadron assisted Joint Security Area service members with rescue tools and safety precautions during a joint exercise April 8, here.
Republic of Korea and U.S. Army members practiced search and recovery techniques after a simulated aircraft crash north of the Korean Demilitarized Zone.
“This exercise is to show that our soldiers have the skills necessary to extract and treat casualties from the aircraft and to get to that aircraft safely to an area that is potentially mined or has unexploded ordnance,” said U.S. Army Lt. Col. Christopher Nyland, United Nations Command Security Battalion commander.
Every month, the United Nations Command exercises their right to train in accordance to the Korean Armistice Agreement. During this iteration, the security battalion called upon the Osan fire prevention flight for assistance.
“They have been helping us make sure we have the right tools in our toolkit … and to train these soldiers and our leaders on how to gain entry into a crashed aircraft,” said Nyland. “They were able to join us on this exercise and provide their observations and critique on how well we’re using these lessons and applying them in a tactical scenario. We’ve really opened our aperture on how to utilize these tools thanks to them.”
The exercise incorporated a wooden structure filled with simulated injured service members to simulate a downed helicopter. Security battalion soldiers used their new equipment like a circular saw and Jaws of Life to enter the aircraft safely and without further injuring the individuals inside.
“In a perfect world, a downed helicopter will land straight down, but oftentimes that is not the case,” said U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Nathaniel Andrews, 51st CES fire prevention crew chief. “We’re here to ensure they’re able to work around situations like this to save lives. Our big part of this exercise is making sure these soldiers are able to safely enter the downed aircraft and extricate patients for medical help.”
“For example, if someone is pinned inside the aircraft, you could use the Jaws of Life to pry open the cuts made with a saw to ensure we don’t further injure the individuals,” he added.
“I’m glad we were able to come out and train with the Army,” said Andrews. “Especially coming up to Camp Bonifas, where the threat is real. Helping them out with this certainly shows the strong alliance we have here.”
The Osan fire prevention team plans to continue participation in exercises with the JSA Security Battalion to ensure the peace and stability on the Korea Peninsula.