RAF Halton Tests its Emergency Response Plan

RAF Halton has run a multi-agency post-crash management exercise at its airfield known as Exercise FIVE ARROWS. The RAF Halton airfield’s Rescue & Fire Fighting Initial Emergency Response Category ‘Special’ was exercised using an RAF ground-training aircraft simulating the loss of one of the RAF Halton-based aircraft.

It was further supported by the arrival of the Military Provost Guard Service (MPGS) Quick Reaction Force, the RAF Police and the RAF Halton Station Ambulance. Two fire engines from Bucks Fire and Rescue Service also reacted to the crash simulation exercise and drove to the scene on the airfield. Follow up actions were also tested in the after-math of the simulated emergency.

Operations Wing Commander Ray Morley said: “Whilst the immediate airfield response was excellent, there are always lessons to be learnt, and we feel this exercise has helped us identify further improvements that can be made in other subsequent post incident areas”

RAF Halton has a well tested Emergency Response Plan (ERP) and it is table-top exercised once a year and every 2 years a live exercise is held. The recent live exercise proved that all was in place to deal with an emergency such as the simulated aircraft accident and also allowed any lessons to be identified for the annual review of the ERP.

Operations Squadron Commander and exercise coordinator, Sqn Ldr Gary Coleman said: “Exercise FIVE ARROWS was important to prove, in real time, that the RAF Halton Emergency Response Plan works for the airfield. It does; and the fact that from the first call our Initial Emergency Responder had his fire extinguisher discharging in just over 3 minutes, having driven the full length of the airfield, proves this. The follow up by Bucks Fire and Rescue with our very own RAF Halton emergency responders was equally impressive and I was able to call an end to the exercise within 30 minutes having checked the function of all responders. As ever, there are always lessons to be learned; none of them were major and they will be incorporated in the next version of the plan.”

The military have been flying from the RAF Halton estate since 1913 and have been doing so ever since. In present day, the airfield is home to small light aircraft and gliders providing flying training annually to over 1,500 Service Personnel. The RAF Halton Aero Club celebrates its 90th year and RAF gliding at RAF Halton celebrates its 85th year in 2015.

On average there are up to 12,000 powered aircraft movements and a further 3,000 winch-launched gliders a year. Keeping those that fly at the airfield as safe as possible is paramount; Exercise FIVE ARROWS is one such activity that provides assurance that the operations are as safe as possible.