by Michael Golembesky
21st Space Wing Public Affairs staff writer
5/14/2014 - PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Peterson
AFB rescue vehicles raced to an accident scene early May 8 in response
to a plume of thick black smoke, normally a bad sign at an airport.
In this case, the smoke was from an aircraft crash scenario designed to
test emergency response capabilities, part of the City of Colorado
Springs multi-agency exercise called SkyFall.
The City of Colorado Springs, Peterson AFB, Fort Carson, El Paso County
and many other agencies partnered during the SkyFall mass-casualty
exercise. The exercise was designed to allow personnel to test and train
on their procedures in response to a simulated aircraft crash.
"The exercise was an incredibly well orchestrated and integrated
exercise that enabled the 21st Space Wing to showcase our primary fire,
crash and medical response capabilities," said Col. Michael Burke, 21st
Medical Group commander.
"In my 22-year career, this was the best and most challenging exercise
I've seen involving multiple community organizations and a
joint-military response. I think we all learned quite a bit as we worked
thru the scenario. Most of all, we learned how much we need and can
rely on each other as a community," said Burke.
"It was important for Peterson to take part in SkyFall to test, trial
and evaluate Peterson's crash-fire-rescue response capabilities," said
Master Sgt. Shannon Anderson, Peterson AFB Fire Emergency Services
assistant chief of operations and exercise evaluator.
The exercise also tested the Colorado Springs Airport and Colorado
Springs emergency services' crisis response capabilities in the event of
a major aircraft incident, Anderson said.
The exercise was divided into two phases: a crash-site response near the
Colorado Springs Airport; and a medical response with participants
acting as patients in-processing at five local hospitals. About 140
"patients" in realistic makeup to simulate wounds were triaged and
transported to area hospitals.
"A lot of invaluable experience was gained, truly testing and evaluating
our collective community effort to effectively and efficiently mitigate
and recover from a major incident," said Anderson.
Hospitals in the Colorado Springs area also took part in the SkyFall
exercise when patients arrived at area hospital's emergency department
by bus, helicopter and ambulance where they were assessed and treated by
medical staff and personnel. Working as a collective team at all levels
was the intent of SkyFall.
"Our relationship with the city and surrounding community is extremely
important in all matters pertaining to emergency services--not only for
these types of events--but for any potential emergencies that may arise
and affect our community as a whole," said Anderson. "This exercise was
another avenue to validate our strong and robust community emergency
services response capabilities."
Testing communication, gaining experience and testing capabilities was
the goal, but none of it would have been possible without the
participation and willingness to learn from all of the agencies and
"I would like to thank all of our Peterson and Colorado Springs
authority and emergency services responders that took part in an
exercise of this magnitude. More than 900 responders and 46 vehicles
took part in this exercise and executed it safely and efficiently," said