Offutt partners with the community for MARE

  • Published
  • By Chad Watkins

The 55th Wing, assisted by local fire departments, conducted a major accident response exercise (MARE) at Offutt Air Force Base on Saturday, June 8, 2024. This exercise tested the base’s ability to respond to a disaster with multiple casualties.

Prior to hosting an airshow, U.S. Air Force installations are required to conduct mass casualty exercises. Offutt AFB has the Defenders of Freedom air show scheduled for Aug. 24-25. The exercise, which simulated a plane crash into a large crowd of people in attendance, was a stark reminder of the potential risks and the need for readiness. Offutt Fire Department, along with Omaha, Murray, Papillion, and Plattsmouth fire departments, responded to the incident.

“The biggest thing for us is the opportunity to practice our skills with organizations we don’t always get to work with in large events like this,” said Lucas Lechtenberg, 55th Civil Engineering Squadron deputy fire chief. “It allows us to be better prepared and work together as a team and greatly improve our response times during large disasters.”  

The 55th Medical Group also participated in the exercise. The 55th MDG started the day with members applying moulage, a makeup application of injuries, to volunteers who participated in the exercise, adding a sense of realism to the event.

While the fire departments extinguished a simulated aircraft fire at the fire training pit north of the runway, the 55th MDG, assisted by Omaha and Papillion fire and rescue teams, tended to the wounded south of the runway.  As part of the exercise, ambulance crews transported 37 simulated patients to Bergan Mercy Hospital.

“Our relationships with our partners are absolutely key,” said Col. Tracy Bozung, 55th Medical Group commander. “We are very fortunate to have an amazing working relationship with all of the hospitals and community clinics around the installation as well as our local partners.”

Col. Aaron Gray, 55th Wing deputy commander, reflected on the exercise overall.

“The value of a major accident response exercise is in the lessons learned,” said Gray. “When base organizations partner with the community, it enhances our preparedness and makes us more capable of responding to major incidents.”