Our community stands ready for disaster

  • Published
  • By Chief Master Sgt. Clifford Otto
  • 182nd Civil Engineer Squadron Fire Department
Our community stands ready when disaster strikes. Under a Mutual Aid Box Alarm System, or MABAS, umbrella, Peoria County agencies plan, prepare, train and respond to a multitude of incidents and emergencies all over the county.

Thirty-eight agencies and more than 200 exercise participants took part in the General Wayne A. Downing Peoria International Airport full-scale mass casualty exercise last month. Required every three years by the Federal Aviation Administration, the April 22 exercise simulated an aircraft crash with 57 passengers requiring advanced medical treatment and expedient transportation to medical care.

It certainly tested the airport’s emergency response network. Gene Olson, director of airports for the Metropolitan Airport Authority of Peoria, said he was pleased with the overall event.

“My thanks go especially to the 182nd Airlift Wing and its fire department and emergency response planning personnel, since they were instrumental in the planning and execution of this exercise,” he said. “I sleep better knowing that we have such dedicated professionals doing aircraft rescue firefighting at PIA.”

The 182nd Airlift Wing fire department is responsible for all emergency responses to the airport and its properties through a joint-use agreement. The exercise represented six months of coordination by the combined planning team. 182nd Fire Chief Chief Master Sgt. Clifford Otto, 182nd Emergency Manager Senior Master Sgt. Tim Foley, and Kevin Delmastro, OSF disaster preparedness coordinator for Region 2, worked diligently to synchronize the 38 agencies, 120 player participants and 107 Boy Scout troop volunteers.

The 2017 exercise was the largest in Peoria County over the last two years and was widely recognized as a success.

“I think the size and scope was great,” said Julie Leaned, the American Red Cross disaster program manager for the Central and Southern Illinois regions. “What’s most important is that we all learn from this and take that information to improve a real-life event.”

The collaboration of so many different agencies makes this particular exercise unique. City, state and federal government agencies responded to the simulation along with elected officials, airline representatives and even some from Tazewell County Emergency Management.

“It was good to see how the agencies work together…expanding to family assistance is complicated and you laid great groundwork,” said Jean Riehl, the regional Delta Airlines emergency planning and operations representative.

Division Chief Ronald Jones from the Peoria Fire Department participated in his first airport exercise and was part of the evaluation team.

“Being a part of the exercise and getting to know and work with the different agencies and fire departments, knowing what works and what doesn’t…when it does happen, we are all prepared,” he said.

A heartfelt “thank you” to the following agencies who participated in the exercise planning and execution:

182nd Airlift Wing Inspector General
182nd Civil Engineer Squadron Emergency Management
182nd Civil Engineer Squadron Fire Department
182nd Maintenance Squadron
182nd Security Forces Squadron
Advanced Medical Transport
Allegiant Airlines
American Airlines
American Red Cross
Bartonville Fire Department
Brimfield Fire Department
Central Illinois Public Information Officer
City Link
Delta Airlines
Federal Aviation Administration
Illinois State Police
Limestone Fire Department
Logan-Trivoli Fire Department
OSF St. Francis Medical Center
Pekin Hospital
Peoria County Coroner
Peoria County Emergency Control Center
Peoria County Emergency Management
Peoria County Public Information Officer
Peoria County Sheriff’s Department
Peoria Emergency Management
Peoria Fire Department
Peoria International Airport Air Traffic Control
Peoria International Airport Director
Peoria International Airport Operations
Salvation Army
Tazewell County Emergency Management
Timber Hollis Fire Department
Transportation Security Administration
United Airlines
Unity Point Health-Methodist
Unity Point Health-Proctor
West Peoria Fire Department