Wednesday, October 2, 2013
My Own "Broken Arrow" Event
This 17 year old movie has a title "Broken Arrow" that brings back memories of my Air Force Reserve days. I served in the AFRES hospital squadron assigned to Earling Bergquist Regional Air Force Hospital, adjacent to the base family housing just outside Offutt Air Force Base. The term "Broken Arrow" has for as far back as I'm aware of been the official term for the event of the loss of a nuclear weapon or the crash of a nuke carrying aircraft.
The disaster exercise during my last summer two week duty there was a simulated "Broken Arrow". Obviously, since it was 1975, the supposed downed aircraft in the exercise was one of the strategic nuke carrying B-52s that flew out of Offutt AFB, not the supposed B-3 in the movie (not yet existing, only B-2 stealth bombers exist today).
That was the first time I actually saw a tornado. I was manning the radio base station in the hospital's conference room. A severe weather alert brought the exercise to an early close. Just as we were wrapping it up a tornado warning was issued, a real disaster event.
As I was disconnecting the radio base station to move it to a basement office near where all staff and patients were evacuated to, there it was in full view a few miles away out the conference. room window. It was, as they usually are, approaching from the southwest. It was white so it had yet to touch down.
Somehow I managed to get the radio disconnected, removed and hooked into it's alternate connection in that office. I had never before known of the existence of the alternate hook-up point so I surprised myself with the success.
We managed to direct all our personnel to safety. The tornado jumped directly over the hospital, touching down harmlessly in a field across the road from the hospital and base housing. We soon thereafter had everything and everyone back to normal operations.