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MARE tests Team Shaw

U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Ronald Nowlin, 20th Civil Engineer Squadron assistant chief of operations, speaks into a radio during a major accident response exercise at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, Nov. 17, 2017.

U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Ronald Nowlin, 20th Civil Engineer Squadron assistant chief of operations, speaks into a radio during a major accident response exercise at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, Nov. 17, 2017. During the mock fuel spill, groups such as first responders and fuels Airmen reported to the scene, where evaluators assessed their responsive efforts to determine where improvements could be made in preparation for potential real-world incidents. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kathryn R.C. Reaves)

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Larry Diaz, 20th Civil Engineer Squadron noncommissioned officer in charge of training, opens a fire hydrant at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, Nov. 17, 2017.

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Larry Diaz, 20th Civil Engineer Squadron noncommissioned officer in charge of training, opens a fire hydrant at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, Nov. 17, 2017. Diaz released the water to simulate a worst-case scenario spill of 450,000 gallons of fuel during a major accident response exercise. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kathryn R.C. Reaves)

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Larry Diaz, 20th Civil Engineer Squadron noncommissioned officer in charge of training, tosses a dye packet into water being emptied from a fire truck during a major accident response exercise at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, Nov. 17, 2017.

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Larry Diaz, 20th Civil Engineer Squadron noncommissioned officer in charge of training, tosses a dye packet into water being emptied from a fire truck during a major accident response exercise at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, Nov. 17, 2017. The approximately 5,000 gallons of water were emptied into a drain and dyed to simulate fuel contaminating a water supply. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kathryn R.C. Reaves)

During an annual fuel spill major accident response exercise, Team Shaw members reacted to a simulated escape of 450,000 gallons of fuel, represented by water, at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, Nov. 17, 2017.

During an annual fuel spill major accident response exercise, Team Shaw members reacted to a simulated escape of 450,000 gallons of fuel, represented by water, at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, Nov. 17, 2017. The scenario was designed to test the response and readiness of participants, such as fuels distribution, emergency services, environmental and medical Airmen. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kathryn R.C. Reaves)

Fuel spill major accident response exercise participants discuss the simulated scenario at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, Nov. 17, 2017.

Fuel spill major accident response exercise participants discuss the simulated scenario at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, Nov. 17, 2017. After a mock fuel spill, agencies from across the base gathered to practice coordinating efforts and protect Team Shaw members, equipment, facilities and the environment. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kathryn R.C. Reaves)

SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. -- The 20th Fighter Wing Inspector General team conducted a major accident response exercise, Nov. 17.

The exercise, which simulated a worst-case scenario fuel spill that contaminated water ways, tested the response of multiple groups of Airmen and contractors including fuels distribution, emergency services, environmental and medical responders.

The scenario was classified as a worst-case potential because it was based on the rupture of the wing’s largest fuel tank.

“We do these exercises to make sure the individuals that are in each organization understand their responsibilities, (that) communication between these units flows as it should, and that the personnel, equipment, facilities and the environment are all taken care of,” said Mark Yarke, 20th Logistics Readiness Squadron terminal superintendent for fuels bulk storage.

Airmen assigned to the 20th Civil Engineer Squadron fire department released water from a fire hydrant near fuel tanks to simulate the discharge of 450,000 gallons of fuel. They also poured water from a fire truck into a nearby drain and added a green dye to the water, representing its contamination.

Exercise participants were then tested on their response and coordination regarding each part of the incident, including providing mock medical care, creating a cordon to prevent individuals from entering the area, and tracking contamination.

“Teamwork is important because no one agency is going to get it done by themselves,” said Dustin Campbell, 20th FW IG exercise planner.

In addition to testing agency responses, these exercises help the 20th FW determine where improvements can be made in preparation for potential real-world incidents.

“They’re important to the Air Force as a whole because we want to look to mitigate all the hazards we can, so we need to identify problems before we have a real world event … to make sure we’re as prepared as we can be,” said Campbell. “They’re effective to prepare people because we try to provide the most realistic scenario as we can inside of our exercise constraints. They give the opportunity to get some hands-on, realistic training.”

As the Airmen and contactors departed to their work centers, they returned with a better understanding of their roles and responsibilities during major accident responses. This knowledge gets them ready for real-world events and prepares them to protect Team Shaw members, equipment, facilities and the environment.