This year’s Exercise Kangaroo Down tested the emergency response limits of RAAF Base Townsville to a simulated helicopter crash.
CAPTION: Medical officer Flight Lieutenant Melanie Smyth gives the fire commander from Aviation Rescue Fire Fighting Services and fellow Air Force members a situation report on the crash victims. Story by Flying Officer Robert Hodgson. Photo by Corporal Jesse Kane.
Held smack bang in the middle of Runway Zero-Seven on September 15, the exercise tested on- and off-base emergency responses in accordance with the aerodrome emergency plan.
The biannual exercise involved the Army’s 5th Aviation Regiment CH-47F Chinook departing for a high range training insertion with 25 crew and passengers. In the simulated crash, Army personnel acting as passengers took on the role of injured casualties.
Townsville’s emergency services took over from there with coordination from the base operations room.
Base aviation safety officer Flight Lieutenant Peter Simms said the exercise offered invaluable training for Defence Force members and civilian first responders to work side by side, to ensure they were ready for any real emergencies.
“Holding crash exercises accomplishes many outcomes,” Flight Lieutenant Simms said.
“It allowed us to validate our airfield emergency plan and highlights any areas within the plan that need amendments and changes.
“It also tested the response of on-base and civilian emergency services.”
Personnel from the base who were involved included 27 Squadron, 1 Expeditionary Health Squadron, other base units and Army.
The Queensland Police and Ambulance Services, plus Air Services Australia Rescue Fire Fighting Service, were among the civilian responders.
“It was a great opportunity to test how military and civilian services work together at RAAF Base Townsville,” Flight Lieutenant Simms said.
At the conclusion of the exercise, all involved parties debriefed to learn from the experience.