YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — A helicopter went down at Darling Field here at 6:01 p.m. Monday, immediately beyond the runway’s south end, near Yokota’s fuel storage area. Too near.

Within minutes, the fire department had been summoned to contain a raging blaze. Police scrambled to establish a secure perimeter. Ambulance crews raced in to treat the injured, as helicopter spotlights swept the grounds.

The good news: All of it — the crash, the blaze, the “victims,” the circling helicopters — was only a test. “Fire, police and ambulance crews all responded,” said 1st Lt. Tom Wenz, a 374th Airlift Wing spokesman. “It tested our ability to respond to a major accident. We’re required to test periodically.”

Yokota’s emergency response personnel will be reviewed by Pacific Air Forces in mid-January in a unit compliance inspection, Wenz said. Major accident response is a key component.

Monday, the first call indicating a “crash” had occurred reached Yokota’s command post at 6:01 p.m., Wenz said. It then passed to the base’s crisis action team and disaster control group.

“They followed the exercise scenario all the way through to a death notification,” Wenz said. “We had people out there as patients and casualties. And our first responders were out there.”

Additional helicopters circled the base with spotlights, Wenz said, seeking out casualties who may have wandered away from the crash scene.

More than 100 people took part in the exercise, including an exercise evaluation team from the air wing. The casualty scenario included two “dead” and 11 “injured,” including 10 individuals on the ground, according to Wenz.

Officials labeled the impromptu training session a success.

“The site was secured shortly after 8 p.m.,” Wenz said. “The scenario continued forward, with accountability and notification processes. It ended some time after 9 p.m.”

A major accident response exercise, he said, “is something that really puts our folks to the test as far as how quickly they can respond to an emergency.”

Wenz said the upcoming unit compliance inspection also is designed to review base-wide office procedures and the filing of paperwork, ensuring that Air Force instructions are being followed properly.

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