VIRGINIA BEACH, Va.
Naval Air Station Oceana held its annual Pre-Air Show Exercise Aug. 23 to demonstrate the ability of NAS Oceana and the City of Virginia Beach to respond and recover from a mass casualty incident.
Personnel from NAS Oceana and local first responders simulated a mishap to prepare emergency personnel for any situations that can potentially occur during an airshow.
Firefighters simulated the rescue of people trapped on board an aircraft. During the annual airshow, guests are able to board various “static display” aircraft, and the exercise provided an opportunity for first responders to practice in case of a real-life incident.
Sailors and civilians role-played as injured bystanders, each wearing a “patient card” with details of their fictitious condition and injuries. Emergency medical personnel practiced treating and transporting the “patients” to local medical facilities.
Local agencies such as the Virginia Beach Fire Department, Virginia Beach EMS, Virginia Beach Police Department, Sentara Virginia Beach General Hospital and Virginia Port Authority partner with NAS Oceana for the annual airshow and were present at the exercise to practice for an incident.
“Each year, we change the scenario based on last year’s after action report,” said Erin Sutton, Virginia Beach emergency manager. “With any exercise, communication is always a challenge, so we always put an emphasis on communication.”
Sutton said exercises like this help build the relationship between the military and local community.
“This exercise is always a great opportunity, with new people rotating in,” said Sutton. “It gives a great opportunity to build the relationship between Oceana and the community.”
NAS Oceana commanding officer, Capt. Chad Vincelette, said this exercise is an important part of every airshow and builds upon the relationship between NAS Oceana and the city of Virginia Beach.
“We gather all the teams we anticipate would respond to a mass casualty event together and work on the basics,” said Vincelette. “Although today is a day to practice several things, we work together all the time and we have a fantastic relationship.”
Though practicing for a mass casualty event is important, Vincelette said he doesn’t expect any incidents to occur at the 2019 NAS Oceana Air Show.
“The airshow is a very safe event,” said Vincelette. “Just in case something happens, Sentara General Hospital sets up an emergency hospital on base. If you’re going to get sick, the airshow is a great place for it to happen because we have all the emergency response right here.”
Approximately 250 thousand guests attend the Naval Air Station Oceana Air Show annually.
This year’s airshow will be held Sept. 21 and 22 on board NAS Oceana. Gates will open at 8 a.m. and the show is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m.
The featured performance for the 2019 NAS Oceana Air Show is the United States Air Force Thunderbirds.