With the Wyoming Air National Guard’s plan to practice combat missions during last week’s annual training at Camp Guernsey came additional emergency response requirements and an opportunity for Air and Army firefighters to partner as “one guard.”
The Air Guard staged four C-130 H Hercules and their crews at the Guernsey Airfield throughout the week.
Not a problem for the camp’s fire department.
However, some of the WyANG’s training missions included landings and takeoffs from the tactical airstrip at Guernsey’s North Training Area, and that’s where things got a little more complicated. “We’ve got the four aircraft dropping loads at Drop Zone Moss and then landing at the tac strip,” said the camp’s fire chief Alan Baldy, from the landing zone, where he and two of his Army Guard affiliated firefighters and four Air Guard firefighters were ready to respond if necessary. “Each plane is required to have a certain amount of water and firefighting personnel on hand at each airfield.”
It’s been a few years since the Air Guard firefighters augmented the Guernsey team according to their assistant chief Dirk DeShaney.
“It wasn’t very difficult. The chief called a few months ago and said this is what we need and this is when we need it,” DeShaney said. “Then we have to call F.E. Warren (Air Force Base) and let them know we need back up (in Cheyenne) while we are up here. It’s really a multi-agency effort.”
Adding another piece to the partnership puzzle was the Army National Guard’s aviators, who flew a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter filled with a team of Air Guard emergency response personnel from Cheyenne to Guernsey to evaluate the efforts of the teams on the ground.
Senior Master Sgt. Mike Kellebrew, WyANG fire chief, was on that flight. He said he appreciates the Army effort to ensure his service’s training went well.
“It’s a huge coordination effort to get our C-130 crews ready for deployment,” he said. “We’re lucky enough to have the Army side ensure we had the proper response and to have them bring us up for a pulse check, to get eyes on the crews on the ground.”
“It’s good for us to work together,” said Maj. Matt Sturtevant, the Air Guard’s base fire marshal and civil engineer. “It’s a win-win when we’re not blue or green, but one guard.”