Monday, September 21, 2015

Urban Shield 2015 - Mass Casualty Event Training Exercise

By 1st Lt Karin Hollerbach and Maj Steven DeFord, photos as noted

Lt Hollerbach and Maj DeFord both participated in this year’s Urban Shield exercise, albeit in two totally different functions:  Maj DeFord in the field, working on medical scenarios, and Lt Hollerbach looking at the big picture.

For those unfamiliar with Urban Shield, here is some background information on Urban Shield and Yellow Command, taken from the Urban Shield website (paraphrased slightly):

The Alameda County Sheriff’s Office hosted Urban Shield 2015, a planned training exercise involving local, national, and international first responder agencies.  The event began Friday, September 11, 2015 and ended on the following Monday.

Urban Shield is separated into 10 operational Area Commands designated Black, Blue, Gold, Green, Silver (all tactical), Red (fire), White (EOD), Yellow (mass casualty event), EMS (no color designation), Medical Branch (no color designation).

Maj DeFord, who is also an emergency room physician, helped with SWAT team training for mass casualty incidents (MCI), where SWAT teams got EMS teams to work with them, going in after the scene was secured to help triage and evacuate the victims.  According to Maj DeFord, the scenarios were “a whole lot of fun!”  Anywhere between about eight and several dozen victims were out to be sorted and moved to casualty collection points with a certain need for haste, given how much the victims outnumbered the rescuers.  The victims were in full moulage, and even a few mannequins to represent more gruesome injuries (amputations and the like).

Dr Maj DeFord Putting to Good Use His ER Skills with
a Simulated Victim, photo by Sun Lin
One of the other scenarios Maj (Dr!) DeFord participated in was the MCI drill:  An EMS team had a small fleet of ambulances and a large number of victims that they had to re-triage, load on ambulances, and bring to the scenario, where Maj DeFord and others played the receiving emergency room, handling a flood of victims requiring more definitive care (blood, chest tubes, surgery, and the like).

As part of her ongoing PIO training, Lt Hollerbach was fortunate to be invited as observer into the Oakland Emergency Operations Center (EOC), as part of the Yellow Command training.

In 2013, the Bay Area Regional Catastrophic Planning Team collaborated to establish a “Yellow Command” component to Urban Shield to complete a full-scale exercise to test the Regional Catastrophic Earthquake Mass Fatality Plan.

The goal of Yellow Command 2015 was to engage EOCs throughout the Bay Area Region and promote coordination across agencies and jurisdictions in response to a complex coordinated terrorist attack. It involved live communication from two field play sites to local EOCs, driving regional coordination regarding needed resources and mutual aid. The exercise focused on validating the roles and responsibilities of regional transit agencies per the Regional Catastrophic Earthquake Mass Transportation and Evacuation Plan.

Yellow Command also provided an opportunity for Bay Area agencies to practice the use of regional tools such as Cal COP (CA Common Operating Picture) and Web EOC for maintaining situational awareness and communications with regional partners during planned and unplanned events.

  • Cal COP leverages local and regional risk management and critical infrastructure assessments—layered with real-time, intentional, technological, and natural hazard threat information—to create a common threat awareness picture.
  • Web EOC is the crisis information management system used by emergency management officials during an activation of their Emergency Operations Center (EOC).

Two-way integration of Cal COP and Web EOC significantly enhances situational awareness across emergency management and public safety agencies.

In the exercise that Lt Hollerbach participated in, the EOC was activated a few minutes after 9 AM, continuing until noon.  The scenario started with simulated attacks in various parts of the Bay Area, with Oakland monitoring the situation. Throughout the morning, the scenario unfolded, with additional crises and coordinated (simulated!) attacks continuing.

Although most of the training was communications oriented, the EOC was staffed with IC, Planning, Logistics, Operations, and other sections, in addition to PIOs.  This was great, to see the whole incident management system come together.
This Year's Urban Shield T-Shirt,
photo by Lt Hollerbach

Since Lt Hollerbach was the least experienced person in the room (at least in the context of handling mass casualty events), pretty much every conversation she had with team members was a learning experience - both in furthering her PIO training and and in seeing firsthand the entire command structure in action, in a large-scale event spread across the entire Bay Area, with multiple jurisdictions coming together and sharing information and resources.

No details of the scenario or any photographs of the EOC, for security reasons.  All you get is a photo of the t-shirt!  If you want to see more, you’ll have to find a way to participate next year.

The skills and professionalism of the people staffing the EOC were impressive.  Many thanks to Urban Shield and particularly the EOC for letting us participate.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Water Survival Training with the US Coast Guard

By 1st Lt Karin Hollerbach, photos as noted

Earlier in September, several members of Squadron 188 - and other squadrons - participated in the US Coast Guard’s (USCG) Water Survival Training course.  Thanks to 1st Lt Al Chavez and Capt Jordan Hayes for organizing this training and to the USCG for allowing us to participate.

Pre-Flighting the Anti-Exposure Suits Provided to
us by the USCG, photo by Lt Fletcher-Hernandez
Lt Stevulak after a Successful Swim, photo by
Lt Fletcher-Hernandez
Every CAP crew member who is part of an extended overwater flight must be current in Water Survival (WS) certification. Although most of our Wing’s sorties are not extended overwater flights, such flights are not as extreme as one might think: Other than the take-off or landing phase, an extended overwater flight is defined as any flight operation, sortie or event, conducted outside the normal power-off gliding distance of land, as determined by altitude, distance, glide speed, wind and other determining factors.

One does not have to be far out over the ocean for this: Crossing the Bay or the Monterrey Bay or other nearby bodies of water at a low enough altitude can easily put one of our aircraft into an extended overwater flight.

On September 3, Squadron 188 members Maj Noel Luneau, Capt Hayes, Lt Chavez, 1st Lt Eric Choate, 1st Lt Gabriel Fletcher-Hernandez, 1st Lt John Stevulak, and Lt Hollerbach met up with the USCG instructors and trainees at Dunes State Beach in Half Moon Bay for a little swim… and some serious training.

Warm and DryAgain... Pictured from Left to Right: Lt Fletcher-Hernandez, 1st Lt Tony Stieber, Lt Hollerbach,
Lt Stevulak, Maj Luneau, Capt Hayes, Lt Chavez, 2d Lt Frank Geelhaar, 1st Lt Eric Meinbress, Lt Choate,
photo provided by Lt Hollerbach 

Lt Hollerbach and USCG Teammates after our Swim,
photo by Lt Fletcher-Hernandez

Maj Luneau Dreaming of Flying a Helicopter, photo by
Lt Fletcher-Hernandez
Lt Choate Learning to Use Pyrotechnics Safely,  photo by
Lt Fletcher-Hernandez

Lt Choate Surviving in a Life Raft, photo by Maj Luneau
The day was unbelievably fun:  After a safety orientation, we divided up into groups of 5 that would swim out to a life raft anchored offshore and practice our open water skills, one group at a time.  In the swim, some of us got to try out the Coast Guard-provided anti-exposure suits and/or other full body clothing to help us simulate swimming in flight suits, as we would need to if we found ourselves in the water after ditching.

Besides swimming on our own and in a group float technique, we got in/out of the life raft and inventoried our survival equipment.  Besides the ocean portion, we had additional training on the beach, practicing using pyrotechnics safely, building fires and survival shelter, using pumps such as the kind the USCG would provide to survivors in life rafts during a rescue, and other techniques.

Most of us were in teams of 1 CAP member per 4 USCG members. Each team rotated through each of the swim and on-land learning stations.

We were very lucky with the water temperature, which was a balmy 68 deg F.  My wet suit plus exposure suit was way too warm - at least relative to what you might expect in the Pacific Ocean off of Northern California!   Worse yet, the combination was much too buoyant for me, especially when paired with even a partially inflated PFD/personal flotation device (which, as my USCG team members explained to me, was one size fits all, to include enough buoyancy for the 200-300 lb men in their ranks).

Even letting almost all the air out of my PFD, I could not duck under the waves to swim beyond the surf.  Since I love to swim in the ocean and play in the surf, it was both frustrating and funny. Like a little piece of cork, each time I tried to dive underneath a wave, I popped right back up, was inhaled by the breaking wave, and ended up being flung closer to shore than I’d started.

Two of my USCG teammates ended up pushing me underwater in each wave, until we got past the surf zone. I was never so grateful to be held UNDER water in the ocean by two men much larger than myself. Really, they were being helpful, not trying to drown me!

Several of us played in the surf before it was our turn to swim out to the life raft offshore. Lt Fletcher-Hernandez's video shows us in the surf zone, with me being pummeled by a wave.  I like how he neatly stops the recording before one can see that I did survive.

The waves picked up later in the afternoon, and the last team, consisting of all CAP members, had to work a lot harder swimming out to the life raft. To keep everyone safe, the USCG instructors brought the raft in a little closer to shore. Just the same, they spent every bit as much time in the water as everyone else was required to do, in order to pass the class.

Recently, we had a discussion about professionalism and what it means to CAP, so it was still on my mind during this training, and I was very happy (but not surprised) to see that both the USCG instructors and the trainees demonstrated exemplary professional behavior throughout the day. It was a great pleasure to train with them.  CAP can be grateful for the opportunity to learn from and together with them.

An especially big thank you goes out to our host, AST1 Aviation Survival Technician Petty Officer 1st Class Jonathan Kline, Rescue Swimmer U.S.C.G, as well as the other outstanding instructors from the Air Station San Francisco: ASTC Moyer, AST2 Hanchette, AST3 Munns, AST3 Bell, and AST3 Santoyo, not to mention ASSF Chief's Mess for the delicious barbecue.

Capt Coreas, photo by
Lt Hollerbach
Following the water portion of the training, over Labor Day weekend Capt Yudis Coreas taught the classroom portion, which included -

  • Training requirements and reasons for them
  • Operational requirements
  • Equipment
  • Mission preparations and planning
  • Weather information beyond what we might ordinarily obtain for a flight, such as sea state information (wave height, direction and frequency) and what it means to flight planning and ditching
  • Special preflighting practices for overwater flights
  • CAP limitations and personal limitations
  • In-flight procedures
  • Ditching
  • 406 MHz and 121.5 MHz beacons
  • Survival gear
  • Survival after ditching
Know your limitations.  If you had to ditch when the waves are a 9 on the Beaufort Scale, would you survive? Perhaps better to stay home safely.
Photo provided by CAP
(classroom training materials)

At the end of class, we took turns practicing timed egress from the airplane, in crews of 3, including remembering to exit with a simulated raft, which required some additional crew coordination that most of us are not used to when thinking about emergency egress on land.  Not so easy to do in just a few seconds - although everyone was able to do it and meet at the tail of the aircraft in well under the required maximum 60 seconds.

Classroom Participants, photo provided by Maj Luneau

If you haven’t taken this training yet, I highly recommend it.  It might save your life some day, or enable you to save someone else’s by participating in a mission that you would otherwise not be able to participate in.  In the meantime, the training itself is a lot of fun. An alternate water date is set for September 17, so it's not too late.

SM Sturgill (2nd from left) and Lt Gross (3rd from left), along with USCG
Participants during Safety Equipment Lecture, photo by Capt Hayes
...  September 18 addendum:  Congratulations to SM Kenneth Sturgill and 2d Lt Michael Gross for completing their water portion on September 17.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Civil Air Patrol Joins Total Force "Airmen"

Press release by Staff Sgt. Whitney Stanfield
Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs Command Information

WASHINGTON Following 74 years of support to emergency services, aerospace education and cadet programs, the Civil Air Patrol, when conducting missions for the Air Force as the official Air Force Auxiliary is now included in the Air Force’s definition of the Total Force.

The Air Force updated Doctrine Volume 2, Leadership, in August 2015 expanding the Air Force’s descriptions of Total Force and Airmen to now consist of regular, Guard, Reserve, and Auxiliary members.

Historically, the broader term Airmen referred to uniformed and civilian members of the US Air Force (officer or enlisted; regular, Reserve, or Guard) regardless of rank, component, or specialty.
With this newest change, Air Force leaders should consider each part of the Total Force, including the Auxiliary, when determining the most effective and efficient ways to complete the mission. CAP has approximately 57,000 volunteers and 550 aircraft assigned to more than 1,500 units stateside available or currently supporting non-combat missions on behalf of the Air Force.

“As a strategic partner, these unpaid professionals have boldly served our nation saving the Air Force almost 40 times the cost of using military assets for each hour served,” said Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James. “Inclusion in the Total Force reflects the continuing key contributions of this highly trained and equipped organization.”

The Auxiliary members who fly the nearly 100,000 hours per year performing disaster relief, counterdrug, search and rescue, fighter interceptor training, aerial observation and cadet orientation flights will now be included in the Total Force and referred to as Airmen during the performance of official duties in recognition of their contributions to the Air Force.

“Civil Air Patrol enjoys a proud legacy of selfless sacrifice and service to country and community that spans decades,” said Maj. Gen. Joseph Vazquez, CAP National Commander. “Our ability to augment the Air Force is second to none. We provide 85 percent of inland search and rescue missions and disaster-relief support to local, state and national agencies as well as aerial reconnaissance for homeland security, and remain continually postured to offer more.

Beyond CAP’s support to achieve its homeland responsibilities for non-combat operations, the organization has been recognized for their efforts to inspire hundreds of thousands of cadets and K-12 students to pursue science, technology, engineering and mathematics education and training.

“Civil Air Patrol’s increased exposure has a direct impact on attracting youth interest in STEM- based activities which are skills necessary to develop the innovative Airmen our Air Force needs,” said Chief of Staff General Mark A. Welsh III. “We proudly welcome the Air Force Auxiliary by extending our badge of honor as Airmen.” 

Thursday, September 10, 2015

All Hands Meeting - September 2015

By 1st Lt Karin Hollerbach, photos by Lt Col Juan Tinnirello

This month’s All Hands Meeting was opened with Lt Col Tinnirello leading squadron members in the Pledge of Allegiance.
Members and Visitors Attending the All Hands Meeting

Several visitors and prospective new members joined our meeting, and we extend a warm welcome to them.

Monthly Recap

Once again, August proved to be a busy month for Squadron 188.

Air Force training mission
Two aircrew (including Capt Steven DeFord, Lt Hollerbach, and Capt Pete McCutcheon in CAP 481 and Capt Georgios Michelogiannakis, Capt Jordan Hayes, and Capt Terence Wilson in CAP 445), mission staff (including Maj Noel Luneau serving as IC, Maj Doug Ramsey and 1st Lt Gabriel Fletcher-Hernandez serving as MROs) participated in this training mission.

Groups 2 and 5 held an advanced SAREX at LVK, in which quite a few Squadron members participated.  Thanks to the following members for making themselves available for this training:

Lt Adams
  • Maj Chris Johnson, Incident Commander (IC)
  • Maj DeFord,  Blackhat team 
  • Maj Kathy Johnson, Public Information Officer (PIO)
  • Maj Luneau, Mission Observer (MO)
  • Capt Hayes, Logistics Section Chief (LSC)
  • 1st Lt Eric Choate, Mission Pilot (MP)
  • Lt Fletcher-Hernandez, Airborne Photographer (AP)
  • 1st Lt Al Chavez, Urban Direction Finder (UDF) team lead
  • Lt Hollerbach, Blackhat team
  • 2d Lt Robert Adams, Mission Radio Operator (MRO)
  • SM Nicolay Zherebnenkov 

Maj K. Johnson
According to the IC, Maj C. Johnson, the operational tempo was “daunting.”  The feedback he received from many was that “we need to do more stuff like this.” Resources were deliberately overwhelmed and stretched thin, to approximate real life scenarios. When actual large-scale disasters occur, or multiple smaller disasters happen in parallel, we can’t count on always having enough staffing.

As PIO for the SAREX, Maj K. Johnson did an amazing job of orchestrating press coverage, including both NBC and Channel 2.  We thank both stations for giving us their attention, and helping to spread the word to the public about they important role that CAP plays in emergency services and disaster relief.

Some of the press coverage can be viewed here: 

and here:

and here:

All in all, as members we can expect more intensive training with even higher performance expectations and “at tempo” realistic training scenarios.

Other missions included -
EPIRB mission, with Maj C. Johnson (IC) and 2 UDF teams.  The signal was shut down in a very fast 4-5 hours from the start.

Lt Kraus
A second ELT mission, with Maj Luneau as IC.  SM Tim Roberts earned his first find (congratulations!) and served as aircrew along with Capt Michelogiannakis (MP) and Lt Fletcher-Hernandez.

Flying privately, Maj Ironfield and Lt Hollerbach heard an ELT, which was also heard by Capt Louis Rivas.  Although none of our squadron members flew in the mission to find this ELT, we thank squadron members for listening in on the emergency channel and calling it in.

Finally, we should note that the training comes at a cost as well:  During the weekend of the SAREX, while there were two other exercises in SoCal and a national event all scheduled during the same time, a real mission occurred - and it was difficult to find available members who had not yet reached the end of their duty days.

All in all, Squadron 188 was engaged in no less than 5 missions in the month of August.  Keep up the great work!

New and Renewed Emergency Services (ES) Ratings and Awards

Maj Luneau Receiving the Silver Clasp Plus
Bronze Clasp for his Air Search and Rescue Ribbon
from Capt Hayes
Congratulations to the following members who completed or renewed their ES ratings and earned some amazing awards:

  • Maj Luneau - whose Air Search and Rescue ribbon was upgraded to a silver clasp plus a bronze clasp for flying an incredible 80 SAR sorties 
  • Maj Philip Blank completed his ICUT
  • Maj Mark Fridell completed his Mission Scanner (MS) rating - his first ES rating! 
  • Capt Michelogiannakis completed Mission Check Pilot qualifications 
    • Capt Michelogiannakis
    • As only the 4th Mission Check Pilot in Group 2, Capt Michelogiannakis joins a very select and professional group of individuals - along with Maj Jeff Ironfield, Lt Col Brett Dolnick, and Capt Ray Woo.  
  • Lts Choate and Hollerbach achieved their CD ratings
  • Lt Kraus completed his IFR Form 91 - and is now an IFR rated Mission Pilot 
  • Lt Roberts - completed MO and simultaneously earned his first Find ribbon
  • SM Ken Wayne - completed Level 1 and earned his Membership ribbon

The squadron also completed its Subordinate Unit Inspection last month.  Thank you to all who contributed to that effort.

Aerospace Education eXcellence (AEX) Minute

SM Zherebnenkov shared this month’s AEX minute by letting us know about the upcoming (Sept 27) lunar eclipse that will feature a 14% larger than normal, blood-red moon - an event that only occurs every 30 years or so.  Plan to keep watch for it!

More information can be found at NASA's site by clicking here.

 Upcoming Events

Lt Roberts Receiving his Find Ribbon from Capt Hayes
A number of squadron members will attend the Water Survival course hosted by the US Coast Guard in September.  The course will include an open water portion, held at Half Moon Bay and/or Coyote Point (depending on the weather) and a classroom portion. Participants must be MS Standards to take this course.  Thanks to Lt Chavez and Capt Hayes for organizing this training opportunity for us.

Safety Education

Lt Roberts led a discussion about Human Factors in Aviation, which included a discussion about a 1989 Air Ontario flight from Dryden Airport in Canada.  The flight crashed on takeoff, with tragic results. We discussed a number of factors that contributed to the accident chain, including, for example:

  • Pilot stress
  • Unsupportive company
  • Flight without functional auxiliary power unit
  • Delays
  • Fatigue
  • Poor crew resource management (CRM)
  • Weather
  • Cold soaking 
  • Etc.

Stay safe and break those accident chains!