First Ground Training For Flight Disaster Ops

DisasterImage via Sky Terry

First Ground Training For Flight Disaster Ops

Written by Sky Terry – On March 10 th in Jefferson County the first classroom ground training session took place for one of their ground support teams within Jefferson County to support Disaster Airlift Response Team (DART) pilot activities. During the session the general safety orientation of operating in and around seaplanes, land based aircraft and helicopters was given, how the concept of the West Coast General Aviation Response Plane (WCGARP) works and many other aspects of supporting aircraft at standard places like airports or forward positions like beaches for seaplanes or roads or gravel/dirt airstrips for land based aviation.

These kind of activities greatly improve safety for people working in these environments and the effectiveness of the DART’s.  In a lot of respects this is some what new as we now have training material in the form of power points, pictures and video to really help people that may have never been up close to a plane, now help handle aircraft and support these operations safely.

When the time comes this will make a significant difference. For me this is also the culmination of years of live drills and realizing how this really is a true partnership between pilots and the communities that likely will be dependent on them and the process started years ago.

Around 2009 we started conducting live disaster exercises with Seaplanes.  As it grew one of the unsung key aspects that made the larger mass causality exercises work, was ground support crews that were familiar with disaster operations and how to move around aircraft.  It many ways it became a partnership between pilots who flew the planes in and the ground team that helped position, manage and work the ground aspect.  It’s been something to behold.

Remember the last article I shared on this effort becoming “Multi State.


Image via Sky Terry

Because of that I’ve grown to believe that if we can develop ground teams that know what to do around aircraft in the water, on land and vertical operations, then we’ll have a phenomenal ability to move people and supplies when desperately needed at a rate and speed that hasn’t been done before.

Ideally, in some locations, the pilot may never even have to leave the cockpit, but simply fly in, taxi to the drop off/pick up area, load/unload and go.  But this level of flow is only possible because of what communities are doing in Jefferson and Clallam counties and the ground training now occurring.  If not for this aspect that wouldn’t be possible to achieve that level of flow.

So when we are looking at numbers like 20,000 or more that need movement, help or evacuation by day 1, the value of the training being done in these counties will suddenly be immeasurable.

Sky Terry is the Emergency and Disaster Response Editor at and has written extensively on the topic of incorporating General & Business Aviation into the mix of first response after natural disasters. If you wish to get involved in the effort or begin developing your own plan to start an Emergency Response Team, please contact him via Email. To learn more about the Emergency Volunteer Air Corps visit Sky Terry also puts out frequent email updates on the progress of the effort with a large number of individuals.

Are you interested in becoming a guest editor at Guest editorials are always welcome!

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