Warfield Air National Guard Base at Martin State Airport, Md. --
The Maryland Air National Guard conducted the wings first-of-its-kind Mission Assurance Exercise at Warfield Air National Guard Base at Martin State Airport, August 12, 2022.
The simulated exercise was conducted to observe and evaluate the 175th Wing’s response to an on-base fuel spill that resulted in an Airman sustaining injuries.
The 175th Civil Engineer Squadron and 175th Logistics Readiness Squadron were able to observe the functionality of the fuel containment area and how much fuel it could hold if there was ever a real-world fuel spill.
“The safety and well-being of our force is priority number one and exercising our response to an emergency situation is vitally important,” said U.S. Air Force Col. Richard Hunt, vice commander of the 175th Wing. “We will take advantage of every opportunity given to us to ensure that all of our members have the skills, knowledge, and equipment to be prepared for any situation where seconds count.”
The exercise began when water, simulating fuel, sprayed from a damaged gasket on a fuel truck hitting an Airman before spilling onto the ground. The “injured” Airman contacted the on-base fire department, who responded to the scene to provide incident command and patient care. Base firefighters were there to train but also to learn from the fuels specialists, who are the subject matter experts in this type of emergency.
“We now know what 8,000 gallons of fuel looks like in that area and it will help our people [be ready],” said Jason Hearne, 175th Wing installation fire chief. “These types of exercises are vitally important for our members so they can gain the knowledge and experience with how these types of systems work, and the expectations of the other groups we will need to work with in a situation like this.”
In the event of a mass fuel spill, training helps ensure installation safety and minimal environmental impact. The mock spill allows them to quickly respond to any type of petroleum, oil or lubricant spill.
“Exercising these systems gives us institutional knowledge,” said U.S. Air Force Maj. Brian Vickers, 175th Wing deputy base civil engineer. “Putting those pieces together and identifying some of the deficiencies is big for us and without an operational test there is no way to know exactly how they work or how well they work.”
The training exercise, which took one month to plan, was to test the readiness of wing Airmen in the event of a real-world emergency, identify problems, and correct them.
“It’s entirely feasible that an incident such as this could happen, so we want to make sure that our personnel are responding to their checklists, following all procedures, and our equipment is working properly,” said U.S. Air Force Capt. Sara Nittinger, 175th Wing Director of Inspections. “We need to be ready for any situation and our leadership saw that our Airmen are fully prepared to respond to any potential crisis.”