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OKC and Tinker joint emergency exercise

OKLAHOMA CITY – First responders joined with airmen from Tinker Air Force Base Thursday for a joint exercise testing inter-agency cooperation.

Tinker fire crews set a small plane on fire in a field near I-240 and Air Depot Blvd., counting on first responders from both the base and the metro working together to extinguish the flames.

Richard Kelley, battalion chief for the Oklahoma City Fire Department, oversaw the effort on the civilian side.

“It gives us a good opportunity to work together and to test our resources, to see where we’re at and see how the fire service is ready and how other services are ready for this type of response,” Kelley said.

Kelley’s Tinker counterpart, Fire Chief Terry Ford, said the biggest challenge came from coordinating half a dozen agencies at the scene of the “plane crash.”

“It’s what we call in the military parlance ‘the fog of war’ – the chaos that comes out of something like [the crash],” Ford said.

In addition to the fire, crews had to deal with rescuing “wounded” crash survivors, stopping a simulated chemical spill and securing debris from the military aircraft.

Both Kelley and Ford said the exercise was an important test for emergency crews.

“Any time you can challenge your resources it makes us better for our citizens and it makes us better for the state,” Kelley said.

 Initial evaluations over the exercise were positive, but crews will have to wait until later Thursday for thorough evaluation.