Unique Natural Disaster Preparations

Col. Kevin G. Kersh
Col. Kevin G. Kersh
Don Grove
Don Grove
Major Julie Ostrand
Major Julie Ostrand

By Roger Mari

KONA (KHNL) -- It's a disaster relief exercise conducted by the Pacific Air Force and its taking place here in Hawaii.

246 tents were set up in 48 hours to simulate disaster relief headquarters at Kona International Airport.

"This certainly is by far the largest where we have simulated a disaster or humanitarian assistance," said Air Force Colonel Kevin Kersh.

Mannequins with various medical conditions are used in the exercise and are first brought onto a plane. They are immediately cared for once on board.

"It's important to get the patients on board the aircraft and on route higher level medical facility. They're trained very well," said Air Force Exercise Director Don Grove.

From the sniffles to broken bones and cardiac arrests, emergency technicians are train for it all.

"Some of those are live patients that are banged up to simulate real injuries and some mannequins that have some type of injury," said Kersh.

Military officials say that this disaster relief exercise is different than others conducted because of the addition of a pediatric and OBGYN facility.

"It's been very exciting and rewarding because it's new, no one has practiced having this in so we're all learning on what we have and don't have," said Air Force Major Julie Ostrand.

When natural disasters occur time can become a crucial factor.

"Rapid response to humanitarian assistance or to a disaster are critical ion a mitigating the loss of further life and mitigate further suffering," said Kersh.

Unfortunately natural disasters are a way of life in the Pacific region.