Why we train
By Senior Airman Justin Weaver, 354th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
/ Published November 16, 2006
EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska --
The Iceman Team proved they could adapt to different situations when an Emergency Management Exercise, designed to test Eielson's ability to respond to a real-world incident, actually turned into a real world incident - twice.
The exercise kicked off when an anonymous caller phoned in a potential bomb threat to the 354th Security Forces Squadron's law enforcement desk here Sept. 12. Minutes later, a simulated explosion occurred at a maintenance building near the flightline, sending Airmen from the 354th Fighter Wing into action.
The Eielson Fire Department, ambulances from the 354th Medical Group, and security forces responded to the scene and quickly established a cordon.
As Airmen worked to mitigate the damage and help the "injured," the value of the exercise became readily apparent when the base was put on a "pause exercise" alert due to a real-world bomb threat at the Goldrush Inn an hour and fifty minutes into the exercise.
"The security forces control center received a phone call from an employee at lodging who stated an Airman had threatened to blow up the Gold Rush Inn," said Capt. Derrick Ossmann, 354th SFS acting commander. "We immediately initiated a recall of the Hostage Rescue Crisis Team, established a 500-foot cordon and evacuated all personnel within the established cordon."
Capt. Ossmann credits past realistic base-wide training exercises for the quick apprehension of the Airman who made the alleged bomb threat.
"The reality of why we train for scenarios such as this came into realization during this real-world bomb threat," he said. "Everyone quickly came together and worked as a team."
Once the real-world bomb threat was neutralized and the scene secured, the Iceman Team re-focused their attention to the exercise scenario and picked up where they left off. Little did they know that their flexibility would once again be tested in less than an hour.
As emergency response crews and a search and recovery team conducted a walk-through of the simulated bombing site, the security forces control center received a phone call from a base housing resident who said her 7-year-old daughter was missing.
"My daughter left at 4 p.m. to go to a neighbor's house two doors down the street," said Julie Pearson. "At 6 p.m., I began to worry about her since she hadn't come home. I called my neighbors who said they had just gotten home and that my daughter had never showed up at their house."
Base leadership immediately re-channeled efforts and resources into the search and recovery of the missing child.
"Personnel from all squadrons, their spouses and dependents were searching all areas around the base," said Brig. Gen. Dave Scott, 354th FW commander. "As I drove around the base, there was not a street or corner that did not have someone with a flashlight calling out that child's name."
Just over two hours into the search the missing girl was found.
Mrs. Pearson was overjoyed with the discovery of her daughter and also comforted in the support she received from the entire base.
"Words can't express what everyone at Eielson did for me," she said. "When I told them what happened, the base didn't hesitate to help me. Even people I didn't know were out and about searching for my daughter."
"The wing showed its true colors," General Scott said. "This does not surprise me because of the fantastic men and women we have here at Eielson and in this command. It certainly re-affirms our core value of 'service before self.'"
"Your sincere concern and desire to help truly validated what I have known for a long time," he added. "This wing; this Air Force, is truly a family that cares for its own. Your efforts, concerns and prayers were greatly appreciated--you don't know how extremely proud I am to be part of this Iceman Team."