Exercise Tests Emergency Services Every Three Years
On Saturday morning Virginia’s Lynchburg Regional Airport hosted a mass casualty drill in preparation for the worst-possible disaster that could strike the airport at any time. The airport’s fire unit was backed up by Emergency services from Campbell County’s fire and emergency services units, the city of Lynchburg’s public safety department and rescue squads from surrounding areas. The event was staged to resemble a crash of a regional airliner, complete with local volunteers as casualties and a replica of a regional-size aircraft that utilizes propane gas to provide a real fire-fighting environment was used for Saturday’s exercise.
The News & Advance reports that J. Bowen, the airport’s fire chief, said before the drill that an area just in front of the simulator called the "pit" would be temporarily lit on fire and there would be a small blaze on the inside of the plane. No volunteers were in danger during the drill, which he said is a way to put into practice what emergency workers study in classrooms."This keeps up our training," Bowen said.
Mark Courtney, airport director said "Nothing replaces going through an actual simulated incident. It’s a very thorough and well thought out plan. It really does all come together." The casualty drill is required by the FAA for all federally certified air carrier airports in the United States every three years. It is designed to test the regional airport and nearby localities’ mutual abilities to respond to an actual aircraft disaster with casualties.
Mr Courtney said he was pleased with the cloudy skies and lack of humidity and heat that often take its toll on participants during such exercises.The volunteers were mostly teenagers from the local Lynchburg division of the U.S. Naval Sea Cadet Corps.