Oklahoma Army National Guard Practices Helicopter Crash Response

Wednesday, May 12th 2021, 4:59 pm
By: Amy Kauffman

TULSA, Oklahoma -

Three Army National Guard black hawk helicopters have crashed across the country in the past year, so now the Oklahoma Army National Guard is working to practice their response in case something like that happens here.

The Oklahoma Army National guard does this drill every year, but what’s unique is to the extent they practiced this year.

"There's always that fear when you have something from aircraft at all, let alone something from the military," said Catoosa Fire Chief Denus Benton.

Benton says they've never experienced a black hawk helicopter crash, but they're excited to be able to familiarize themselves with the aircraft in case a tragedy like this were to happen here.

"We would've been literally using jaws or cutting the entire framework and then there’s these little pins that you use to lay the whole seat back," said Benton.

Catoosa, Owasso, and Tulsa firefighters and EMSA Paramedics were all given a real-life scenario and tasks to help them visualize what it would be like to respond to a black hawk helicopter crash.

They also learned how to take the doors off to extract a guardsman in case they were stuck inside the aircraft.

Aviation Safety Officer Zachary Jenks says it's important to form relationships with surrounding agencies now, so they aren't meeting on the scene of a crash.

"We don't typically deal with external agencies very often unless something like this were to happen so we want to make sure we build these relationships now and not when it happens in real life,” said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Zachary Jenks.

Chief Warrant Officer 2 Jenks says they always practice their safety plans every year, but due to the rising number of crashes, they wanted to elevate their response.

"We wanted to elevate this to the national level so we could find holes in our pre-accident plan exercise," said CW2 Jenks. 

Firefighters say this also helps them feel more confident in their response in case there's ever a tragedy like this close to home.

"It's going to help you know if something ever occurs, hopefully we'll be able to save somebody and we'll be able to utilize this,” said Chief Benton.

The Oklahoma Army National guard is always looking for new members to join, so if you're interested you can find more information HERE.