Air Force News

Airmen organize joint rescue exercise in Panama

Released: 17 Sep 1998


Air Force News Photo
A team of airmen and soldiers evacuate a patient during the Equipo Rescate search and rescue exercise at the Fort Sherman, Panama, Jungle Operations Training Range Sept. 2. (Photo by Staff Sgt. John B. Dendy IV)

by Staff Sgt. John B. Dendy IV
24th Wing Public Affairs

HOWARD AIR FORCE BASE, Panama (AFNS) -- Airmen in Panama completed their second full-scale search and rescue exercise Sept. 2, called Equipo Rescate 98-02.

Equipo Rescate 98-02 simulated a Navy E-3 c rash in the Peruvian jungle that immediately initiated forward deployment of rescue forces. The Jungle Operations Training complex at Fort Sherman, Panama, was used as the forward operating base and its bulldozed landing zone in the rain forest served as the simulated crash site for the exercise.

This scenario is typically used to test the disaster response skills of airmen worldwide, but costs and lack of rescue craft generally make frequent full-scale rescue drills unfeasible. To save costs, the Equipo Rescate organizers convinced local units to use real rescue procedures in scheduled training and operational flights.

The event was an extension of the first Equipo exercise that was an open-water rescue of a single crewmember.

"This exercise was a total Team Howard effort to include Army and Marine Corps components," said Lt. Col. John Holt, 24th Operations Group here. "This was good training for an organization flying in this part of the world."

The desired learning objectives were multifold for all organizations participating, said Lt. Col. Mac McCausland of the 24th Air Support Operations Squadron.

"Valuable lessons were learned in all aspects of the exercise," said McCausland. "Command and control issues were raised; communications were tough due to equipment and frequency concerns; and security forces enjoyed the training." (Courtesy of Air Combat Command News Service)