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RAF Lakenheath, NHS strengthen emergency communication

Members of the U.K. National Health Service, 48th Fighter Wing Medical Group and other first responders discuss major or minor incident scenarios during an emergency management orientation and crosstalk event at Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England, Dec. 15. The EM orientation and crosstalk was the first part of a three-step plan with the final portion being a functional exercise. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Emerson Nunez)

Members of the U.K. National Health Service, 48th Fighter Wing Medical Group and other first responders discuss major or minor incident scenarios during an emergency management orientation and crosstalk event at Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England, Dec. 15. The EM orientation and crosstalk was the first part of a three-step plan with the final portion being a functional exercise. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Emerson Nunez)

Col. Lee Williames, 48th Medical Group commander, speaks to members of the U.K. National Health Service, 48th MDG and other first responders during an emergency management orientation and crosstalk event at Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England, Dec. 15. The event’s purpose was to provide an opportunity for the attending agencies to discuss the procedures used during major or minor incidents, such as natural disasters, terrorist attacks and car accidents. Members of the U.K. National Health Service, 48th Fighter Wing Medical Group and other first responders discuss major or minor incident scenarios during an emergency management orientation and crosstalk event at Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England, Dec. 15. The EM orientation and crosstalk was the first part of a three-step plan with the final portion being a functional exercise. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Emerson Nunez)

Col. Lee Williames, 48th Medical Group commander, speaks to members of the U.K. National Health Service, 48th MDG and other first responders during an emergency management orientation and crosstalk event at Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England, Dec. 15. The event’s purpose was to provide an opportunity for the attending agencies to discuss the procedures used during major or minor incidents, such as natural disasters, terrorist attacks and car accidents. Members of the U.K. National Health Service, 48th Fighter Wing Medical Group and other first responders discuss major or minor incident scenarios during an emergency management orientation and crosstalk event at Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England, Dec. 15. The EM orientation and crosstalk was the first part of a three-step plan with the final portion being a functional exercise. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Emerson Nunez)

ROYAL AIR FORCE LAKENHEATH, England --

Members of the U.K. National Health Service, 48th Fighter Wing Medical Group and other first responders gathered for an emergency management orientation and crosstalk event here, Dec. 15.

Its purpose was to provide these agencies an opportunity to discuss different procedures used when responding to major or minor incidents, such as natural disasters, terrorist attacks and car accidents. The event also helped each organization foster a level of confidence in their ability to cooperate during emergency situations like these.

“In the modern era, an incident can become very complex,” said Barry Moss, West Suffolk National Health Service head of emergency preparedness. “We’re having these conversations before anything might happen.”

Communication, or a lack of it, can add to the complexity of a situation. The U.S. Air Force Incident Management System and the U.K.’s Joint Emergency Services Interoperability Program are used by emergency services to outline how they cooperate and communicate during a crisis.

“Communication is an important component to a successful disaster response and recovery,” said Capt. Christophe Bangerezako, 48th Medical Readiness flight commander. “Coordinating multiple agencies without a method of command and control would be detrimental to organizing first responders.”

Several crosstalk scenarios were prepared for the event, including a car crash and flu epidemic. The focus of the conversation was how each would respond, as well as how they would bridge the communication gap between Air force and U.K. organizations.

“Having multiple agencies collaborating on how to work together when responding to a major multi-agency incident is imperative to saving lives,” Bangerezako said. “[We] have robust response capabilities, but we also rely on our allies to strengthen our capabilities. I am looking forward to the next phase, which would be a tabletop.”

The EM orientation and crosstalk is the first of a three-step plan. The next portion is a tabletop exercise followed by a full functional exercise.