Airmen, Civilians Conduct Disaster Response Drill

Active Duty airmen and members of the Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard joined civilians and other service members at Camp Rilea, Ore., Aug. 5 for an exercise simulating the humanitarian aid response to a large earthquake occurring in the Pacific Northwest, triggering a tsunami. Lt. Col. John Graver, commander of 304th Rescue Squadron, oversaw rescue efforts for the “Pathfinder-Minuteman” exercise from the event’s joint operations center. “When a disaster strikes, no one group or agency can do it all. So why wait until game day?” he said, according to an ANG news release. About 250 people worked in 12-person teams to find injured people and provide medical care. The exercise involved a water rescue and drowning victim recovery, house-to-house searches for injured victims, and search and rescue for victims trapped in vehicles and collapsed buildings. Scientists say the Pacific Northwest is overdue for a massive earthquake—magnitude 7 or greater—that could wreak widespread devastation. Dr. Jon Jui, who leads the Oregon Disaster Medical Team, said local officials have focused on training for a worst-case scenario for several years, but having military members and civilian agencies work together will improve communication and response if disaster strikes.