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Japan, US conduct bilateral training at Torii Station

KADENA AIR BASE, Japan (AFNS) -- Emergency response personnel from Kadena Air Base, Torii Station and various departments of the Okinawa Prefecture conducted an annual bilateral aircraft mishap exercise Feb. 17, at Torii Station.

The exercise creates a realistic-emergency response scenario in order to improve cooperation with local government and emergency response agencies.

"I believe we cooperated well and worked well this time, especially during the initial response," said Hidehiko Fujino, the Crisis Management in Okinawa director, and the Okinawa Prefectural Police assistant commissioner. "It went very smoothly."

Japanese emergency services joined more than a dozen agencies from Kadena in reaction to a staged aircraft mishap involving simulated injuries, an aircraft fuselage engulfed in flames and damaged vehicles with simulated victims trapped inside.

U.S. services contributed specialized skillsets to include crash, rescue and emergency management personnel working with members from the Okinawa Prefectural Police, firefighters, Crisis Management Okinawa, the Japanese coast guard,  the Nirai fire department, and others to test their ability to save lives in a crisis situation. 

The exercise gave responders the opportunity to bolster their bilateral relationship and interoperability to better understand how different agencies operate and talk through emergency situations.

"We have limited assets on the island, so any type of training that we can do with the local community helps us to prepare to work together in the event that something bad actually happens," said Master Sgt. Benjamin Scott Powell, the 18th Civil Engineering Flight assistant chief of training.

In order to deliver a commitment to maintain safety, U.S. forces must be prepared to face any emergency that can occur on Okinawa. Flight training is conducted in areas that are bilaterally approved and are continually evaluated and adjusted to ensure minimum impact is made on local communities.

"I expect us to conduct this bilateral training on a continuing basis," Fujino said. "It will help both Japan and U.S. officials to understand each other; moreover, it will enhance safety for people of Okinawa, which is very important."

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