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Posted: September 6, 2018 3:14 p.m.
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Fort Stewart tests emergency response capabilities

Kevin Larson/

Firefighters battle vehicle fires, Aug. 22, at Holbrook Pond on Fort Stewart, which were created to add realism to the installation’s annual emergency response exercise.

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Flames and smoke roar from two burning cars crashed onto the side of the road. Thick white smoke shrouds a school bus flipped on its side. Cries for help come from the bus and from near the burning cars.

The accident scene at Fort Stewart’s Holbrook Pond Aug. 22 was chaotic and horrific, but it wasn’t real. Instead, it was the scenario for the installation’s annual full-scale exercise. The wounded were role-players, the bus and cars pre-staged, and senior installation emergency personnel clustered across the road from the simulated accident, waiting to evaluate the first-responders arriving on-scene.

Fort Stewart Military Police arrived first at the simulated accident, followed quickly by the Fort Stewart Fire Department. Ambulances from Fort Stewart and Liberty and Bryan counties arrived, too.

For Wayne Parker, Fort Stewart Fire Department station chief, the full-scale exercise was a chance to practice a worst-case scenario.

“It’s one of the things that we never want to see happen, but we want to know that if it does happen we’re going to be able to respond appropriately,” Parker said.

Parker was the operations lead for the fire department at the simulated scene, keeping track of the assets committed to the response and the evacuation of the wounded. Parker annotated the numbers of casualties loaded into the ambulances, whether Fort Stewart or neighboring counties.

“We’re testing not only ourselves, but the other agencies and how we interact,” he said. “We’ll use this today as an evaluation, not to criticize ourselves but to kind of analyze and learn from it.” 

Hunter Army Airfield also participated in the full-scale exercise. The scenario there was a simulated hard landing of an AH-64 Apache.

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