BASSETERRE, St. Kitts and Nevis – St. Kitts and Nevis emergency agencies were challenged to respond to a simulated airplane crash with mass casualties scattered for approximately 200 yards June 9, 2018, here.
The event is part of international exercise Tradewinds 2018, a U.S. Southern Command sponsored exercise to help build the capacity of Caribbean nations’ governmental, industrial and civic agencies to respond to disasters, and land and maritime threats.The simulated airplane crash is the finale of the disaster response training which began days before in a table-top planning meeting to discuss the details of a large-scale aviation catastrophe.
“This is the culmination,” said U.S. Air Force Col. Steve Cherrington, chief of the exercise and training division of USSOUTHCOM. “They have multiple casualties, multiple victims, walking wounded, anything that you might expect to have in an event like this. We had fires in the background simulating that the aircraft is actually on fire.”
“The response was quite successful,” said Lesroy Caines, the station officer of the Robert L. Bradshaw International Airport fire house. “Immediately on arriving on the scene the crew went into action extinguishing the fire and performing rescue at the same time.”
Multiple agencies coordinated successfully to get the scene under control. Soon there was an established casualty collection point with triage and a command post to coordinate the response between the fire, police, health services, defense forces, Red Cross, the National Emergency Management Agency, and airport officials, said Caines.
As expected there was a lot of confusion and unknowns at first, but being able to work through it successfully and coordinate an effective response is why Tradewinds is important. It is designed to build and sustain enduring working relationships.
After dealing with hurricanes Maria and Irma in 2017, the island nations said that if wasn’t for exercise Tradewinds they would not have been able to respond as quickly as they did or be able to handle those events, said Cherrington.
“We are more better prepared to respond to a situation or scenario as such,” said Caines. “ This was an amazing opportunity and I would like to encourage more participation from other nations.”