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Freebird

COLORADO SPRINS, Colo – First responders put out a fire on a mock up aircraft that was set ablaze as part of the Freebird 2017 mass casualty exercise in Colorado Springs, Colo., May 5, 2017. The exercise gathered 42 state, county and federal agencies to test crisis preparedness and is a part of a mutual aid agreement between Colorado Springs and Peterson Air Force Base (U.S. Air Force photo by Steve Kotecki)

COLORADO SPRINS, Colo – First responders put out a fire on a mock up aircraft that was set ablaze as part of the Freebird 2017 mass casualty exercise in Colorado Springs, Colo., May 5, 2017. The exercise gathered 42 state, county and federal agencies to test crisis preparedness and is a part of a mutual aid agreement between Colorado Springs and Peterson Air Force Base (U.S. Air Force photo by Steve Kotecki)

First responders extinguish a fire on a mock up aircraft that was set ablaze as part of the Freebird 2017 mass casualty exercise in Colorado Springs, Colo., May 5, 2017. The exercise gathered 42 state, county and federal agencies to test crisis preparedness. (U.S. Air Force photo by Steve Kotecki)

First responders extinguish a fire on a mock up aircraft that was set ablaze as part of the Freebird 2017 mass casualty exercise in Colorado Springs, Colo., May 5, 2017. The exercise gathered 42 state, county and federal agencies to test crisis preparedness. (U.S. Air Force photo by Steve Kotecki)

Firefighters from the Peterson Air Force Base Fire Department carry a simulated victim of a plane crash during the Freebird 2017 mass casualty exercise in Colorado Springs, Colo., May 5, 2017. The simulated victims have make-up applied to give the most realistic training available. (U.S. Air Force photo by Steve Kotecki)

Firefighters from the Peterson Air Force Base Fire Department carry a simulated victim of a plane crash during the Freebird 2017 mass casualty exercise in Colorado Springs, Colo., May 5, 2017. The simulated victims have make-up applied to give the most realistic training available. (U.S. Air Force photo by Steve Kotecki)

First responders load a simulated victim of an air plane crash into an ambulance during the Freebird 2017 mass casualty exercise in Colorado Springs, Colo., May 5, 2017. The exercise which involved a simulated collision between a Cessna aircraft and Delta Airbus 319, gathered 42 state, county and federal agencies to test crisis preparedness. (U.S. Air Force photo by Steve Kotecki)

First responders load a simulated victim of an air plane crash into an ambulance during the Freebird 2017 mass casualty exercise in Colorado Springs, Colo., May 5, 2017. The exercise which involved a simulated collision between a Cessna aircraft and Delta Airbus 319, gathered 42 state, county and federal agencies to test crisis preparedness. (U.S. Air Force photo by Steve Kotecki)

Colorado Springs, Co. -- A plane crash, an aircraft ablaze, dead and wounded passengers scattered across the street at the Colorado Springs Airport. Fortunately it’s not real life, it’s Freebird.

First responders from Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado along with 42 local, county and federal agencies conducted a mass casualty exercise called Freebird at the Colorado Springs Airport May 5, 2017.

Freebird is an exercise designed to test the capabilities and coordination of response to crisis events from the base and local area.

Team Pete members came from the 21st Space Wing Medical Group, the Office of Emergency Management, Mobile Command Posts and the base fire department.

The exercise was broken into two parts, first a simulation of an air plane crash, in which an air frame mock-up was set ablaze for the fire fighters to extinguish, followed by all simulated victims being triaged and then moved to local area hospitals.

After the fire was extinguished, dozens of actors were bussed in and placed around the mock-up air wreck simulating crash victims, complete with make-up, called moulage, including fake blood, lacerations, and simulated bruising as well as other injuries.

The injuries are made to look as real as possible so the training is more impactful to the responders. The simulated victims were made up of volunteers from the local community as well as members of Team Pete.

1st Sgt. Gerald Morey, 21st Comptroller Squadron and Wing Staff Agency first sergeant was one of those simulated victims
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“The exercise planners definitely did their due diligence in making it as realistic as possible,” Morey said. “It gives the first responders a realistic view of the possible injuries,” Morey said.

The first responders arrived on the scene and immediately started triaging patients by injury severity level. All the while Air Force first responders were working alongside their civilian equivalents, which was the key to the exercise Morey added.

The entire exercise was graded by a multitude of inspectors, such as MSgt. Eric Fox, 21st Space Wing Inspector General inspection planner.

“I would say these types of exercises are important because it allows us to build our relationships with our civilian counterparts, and have allowed our units to share experiences which leads to a stronger relationship with all of the local units,” said Fox. “As a wing overall, our Airmen performed exceptionally well.”

After the initial crash scenario the simulated victims were moved to local area hospitals where treatment could continue.

“These types of exercises give all players involved an opportunity to see what their strengths are as well as areas they might be a little weaker in and need some work,” said Morey.

Exercises like Freebird are required by FAA regulations to happen once every three years, with each year that Team Pete members and local first responders work and get better together at saving lives they uphold their mission to protect the community.


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