TCRA emergency drill will simulate plane crash

Hank Hayes • Jun 2, 2008 at 12:00 AM

It’s only a drill.

Authorities announced Monday that more than 20 emergency response agencies could react to a simulated plane crash at Tri-Cities Regional Airport Saturday about 10 a.m.

The federally mandated exercise, held every three years, will test TCRA’s emergency plan and the groups that would respond to an aircraft incident on its airfield.

“During the exercise, all spoken communications will start and end with the statement ‘This is an exercise,’” TCRA Public Safety Department Sgt. Randy Stout said at a media luncheon to go over the drill’s details. “So if you’re listening to your scanner and you’re on the airport frequency and you hear all this about an airplane crash and these different victims and situations going on, you will hear ‘This is an exercise.’ So don’t get excited.”

Organizers are calling the event “TASER 2008” — Tri-Cities Airport Sullivan Exercise Response.

The disaster scenario will be this: A 50-passenger regional jet en route to TCRA experiences mechanical problems upon landing, and the aircraft veers left and crashes on the air cargo ramp.

Volunteers will be scattered across the ramp as ejected crash victims, complete with fake wounds ranging from cuts to serious trauma injuries. Some will be dealt with as fatalities.

An old school bus will represent the plane’s fuselage, and responders will use it to practice extrication, said Sullivan County Emergency Management Agency Director Jerry Fleenor.

“We’ve tried to set these up because it really taxes these different agencies, especially the volunteer departments,” he said. “It’s also is a golden opportunity to get the responders from outside the airport to work with airport staff. In the real world we’ve had more planes go down in areas away from the airport.”

The four-hour exercise is expected to cease automatically if a real emergency happens, but airport officials said there’s never been a commercial plane crash on TCRA’s airfield.

Firefighting, communications, medical response and hazardous materials containment are factors to be critiqued by a team of evaluators.

For more about TCRA go to www.triflight.com.

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