Air Task Force – Romania Exercises their Emergency Response

A man wearing a bright yellow vest talks with a man wearing a red helmet
Constanta, Romania. November 1, 2017 – Warrant Officer Christopher Gervais, Air Task Force Romania Fire Marshall, currently deployed on Operation REASSURANCE in support of NATO enhanced Air Policing, liaises with Romanian first responders before entering a simulated crash site during a crash exercise at Mihail Kogalniceanu Air Base. (Image by: Sergeant Daren Kraus)


By Captain Mathew Strong, Air Task Force – Romania Public Affairs

Air Task Force – Romania (ATF-R) conducted an Emergency Response Plan (ERP) exercise on November 1, 2017 with American and Romanian allies.
Emergency response exercises are based on a fictitious scenario, usually involving a downed aircraft, or lost personnel. For this particular exercise, a simulated CF-188 Hornet, operating as part of ATF-R, went down just north of Mihail Kogalniceanu (M.K.) Air Base in Romania, while returning from a mission in support of its enhanced Air Policing role.

Exercises of this nature are commonplace in Canada. Royal Canadian Air Force members are used to working with local and regional agencies in familiar locations with commonly understood practices and procedures.

“We conduct ERP exercises at home twice a year, sometimes more depending on what we may be doing operationally,” said Lieutenant-Colonel Mark Hickey, Commander of ATF-R.

“They help us integrate new people or a change in operational processes, and provide us with an opportunity to test our capabilities. Real-life emergencies are extremely unpredictable and high-stress, so the more scenarios we can practice, the better prepared we will be.”

Lieutenant-Colonel Hickey went on to point out that there are initially a number of unfamiliar agencies, people, and processes during an operation. So, exercising the ERP provides a chance to get to know all the players who may be involved in an emergency.

“This exercise gave us a chance to learn about our own deployed processes, as well as those of our Romanian and American counterparts. Also, it was yet another opportunity to further develop our overall partnership, something the ATF is always striving to accomplish,” said Lieutenant-Colonel Hickey.

Exercise planners were quick to point out that the emergency response went well. Within minutes of the initial alarm, Romanian and Canadian first responders were on the scene, working together to extinguish the flames and find the injured pilot and the aircraft’s ejection seat, all of which was simulated, of course.

This said, there is always something to learn and improve. The observations from the review of the training will provide everyone involved with a chance to improve for the next exercise, or in the worst case, a potential emergency.

In the end, the goal is to develop a common understanding and a shared culture of safety. Based on the preliminary results of the exercise, it is evident that the ATF’s partners share a similar commitment to safety, which will undoubtedly translate to more successful training opportunities and smoother operations in the future.

The ATF in Romania is deployed to Romania until December 2017 in support of Block 45 of NATO enhanced Air Policing, which is part of NATO assurance and deterrence measures introduced in 2014. The CAF previously supported this mission in Lithuania in 2014 and in Iceland earlier in 2017.

The CAF first deployed an ATF to Romania as part of Operation REASSURANCE from April to August 2014 at the Romanian Air Force’s 71st Air Base in Campia Turzii.

Image gallery

  • Four people carry a bright orange stretcher in a field of grass
  • A large white piece of fabric lies on the grass
  • A man wearing a bright yellow vest talks with a man wearing a red helmet
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