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Base firefighters participate in disaster exercise

Grand Forks area firefighters practice rescue strategies and first aid procedures on a simulated plane crash victim during an exercise at the Grand Forks International Airport, N.D., Sept. 21, 2016. Grand Forks AFB firefighters joined area fire depts. and other first responders for a community effort to develop readiness for emergency response. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Elijaih Tiggs)

Grand Forks area firefighters practice rescue strategies and first aid procedures on a simulated plane crash victim during an exercise at the Grand Forks International Airport, N.D., Sept. 21, 2016. Grand Forks AFB firefighters joined area fire depts. and other first responders for a community effort to develop readiness for emergency response. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Elijaih Tiggs)

Grand Forks area firefighters practice assisting volunteer victims of a simulated plane crash during an exercise at the Grand Forks International Airport, N.D., Sept. 21, 2016. Grand Forks AFB firefighters joined area fire depts. and other first responders for a community effort to develop readiness for emergency response. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Elijaih Tiggs)

Grand Forks area firefighters practice assisting volunteer victims of a simulated plane crash during an exercise at the Grand Forks International Airport, N.D., Sept. 21, 2016. Grand Forks AFB firefighters joined area fire depts. and other first responders for a community effort to develop readiness for emergency response. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Elijaih Tiggs)

Grand Forks AFB firefighters practice first aid procedures on a simulated plane crash victim during an exercise at the Grand Forks International Airport, N.D., Sept. 21, 2016. Grand Forks AFB firefighters joined area fire depts. and other first responders for a community effort to develop readiness for emergency response. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Elijaih Tiggs)

Grand Forks AFB firefighters practice first aid procedures on a simulated plane crash victim during an exercise at the Grand Forks International Airport, N.D., Sept. 21, 2016. Grand Forks AFB firefighters joined area fire depts. and other first responders for a community effort to develop readiness for emergency response. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Elijaih Tiggs)

GRAND FORKS, N.D. -- The Grand Forks Air Force Base fire department joined other nearby fire departments and first responders in an exercise Sept. 21 on Grand Forks International Airport. The exercise simulated a plane crash and included all emergency personnel who would be included in the event of an actual incident.

The exercise was an opportunity for the first responder community to practice for an emergency situation as a unified force.

The exercise included many aspects that made the situation as close to a real-life incident as possible. The plane was filled volunteers who portrayed victims, any agency participating would be there in the instance such an incident would actually happen, and any portrayed injuries were handled accordingly.

Patrick Stevens, Grand Forks AFB Fire Department captain, said the exercise allowed his team to develop good community relations, see how different agencies work, and learn new tactics and strategies.

The Airmen who were involved with the exercise had the opportunity to see how community efforts make the transition from One Grand Forks Air Force Base to One Grand Forks community.

“This exercise gives Airmen an extra base of knowledge to lean on and learn from by doing training that is different from what is seen on the Air Force base,” said Stevens.

Not only were fire departments from the surrounding area participating, but American Red Cross, Altru Health System and more than 100 volunteers from Grand Forks, including many University of North Dakota students, helped provide a realistic scenario for the events surrounding a plane crash.

Connor Voeller, a UND student, volunteered as a victim of the incident and experienced how the community of Grand Forks comes together in cases of emergencies.

“You don’t really anticipate how much goes into a rescue like this until you see it first hand with all the moving pieces that come together to make it successful,” said Voeller.

The success of the exercise depended on the cooperation of all the participants. Each first responder needed to exhibit communication skills, technical expertise and professional adeptness for the exercise to be completed efficiently.

“This exercise highlights the willingness to work together as one to take care of the mission and take care of people,” said Stevens.