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News from the Oklahoma National Guard

NEWS | May 12, 2021

Oklahoma Army National Guard aviation practices for the worst

By Anthony Jones Oklahoma National Guard

Fire trucks and ambulances swarmed the Oklahoma Army National Guard’s Aviation Support Facility 2 in Tulsa, Oklahoma, May 12, 2021 - thankfully they were only there for training.

The first responders from multiple Tulsa area agencies were responding to a simulated UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter crash during pre-accident training hosted by Oklahoma Army National Guard.

Chief Warrant Officer 2 Zackary Jenks, a pilot and aviation safety officer with the Oklahoma Army National Guard, said the training is a quarterly requirement for Army Aviation units that tests their ability to respond to any accident ranging from a slip and fall injury to mass casualty events such as a helicopter crash.

“This is the largest pre-accident training we’ve held here in Tulsa,” Jenks told senior leaders from Tulsa County Emergency Management, Tulsa Fire Department, Catoosa, Oklahoma Fire Department, EMSA and other agencies, adding they were inspired to test their training all the way to the National Guard level in Washington D.C. after several high-profile UH-60 Black Hawk crashes across the nation that claimed the lives of multiple crew members.

“We wanted to learn and we wanted to practice elevating this all the way to the national level in order to find the holes in our plan,” Jenks said. “We don’t often do this with outside agencies, so we wanted to build those relationships now.”

The exercise began with an announcement in the aviation facility that a helicopter had crashed on the landing pad and quickly the Soldiers sprang into action. Two Soldiers from the flight operations center began calling local emergency responders as well as the Oklahoma National Guard’s Joint Operations Center in Oklahoma City.

Within minutes, ambulances and fire trucks began arriving at the Army aviation facility located just east of the Tulsa International Airport. Once on scene, paramedics and fire fighters began extracting simulated injured and deceased helicopter crew members.

Catoosa Fire Department Chief Denus Benton was on hand to watch the fire fighters and paramedics work to free the Soldiers from the mock crash.

He said his department most likely would not be responding to a crash at the facility in Tulsa, but noted the Guard helicopters are often seen training around Catoosa and have assisted his department fight wildfires from the air using water buckets.

“Every fire department would love the opportunity to see and train on this,” Benton said. “Even something as simple as how the seats work. In an emergency, we would be using the jaws of life to try to extract people and we found out here there are a few pins we could pull and get people out.”

The Army Aviation Support Facility 2 has two more pre-accident training events scheduled for later this year.
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