The Pocatello Regional Airport held a disaster drill for a mock plane crash Wednesday. It’s important for each airport and emergency responders to be ready just in case of a real emergency.
The airport held the drill to meet a requirement from the Federal Aviation Administration. The FAA requires the airport to hold a live drill every three years to test procedures.
Volunteers from local high schools played the parts of victims, family and friends and even the media. Crash victims had cuts, burns, blisters and severed body parts. All injuries were make-up jobs, done by Idaho State University theater students.
The scenario was an airplane crash landing. The flight was Richland Airlines, carrying 30 passengers. After the “crash” was called in, the Pocatello fire and police departments arrived on scene and began triage.
Triage protocol is to identify the victims as critical or not. Then the most critical are treated first. Students were treated and loaded into ambulances for supposed transport to the hospital.
It was all to practice what steps would need to be taken in the case of a real plane crash.
“It’s always important to be ready, it really is,” said David Allen, the airport manager. “And this plan works if you follow the plan. But the important thing is that you open the plan, you make sure you practice the plan, you update the plan every year because there’s always changes, so it’s always good to have this done so that we’re ready.”
Allen said the airport holds tabletop, or planning, exercises every year to keep their emergency plans up-to-date. Wednesday was simply putting that plan into live action.
The students who got to participate said it was a really fun experience. As “victims,” they felt the airport staff and first responders were well-prepared and knew what to do in an emergency.
Students who participated said it felt more real than they expected.
“It was really kind of sketchy, like I didn’t think it would be a big deal because I knew I was faking and obviously the injuries are fake, but when they’re actually carrying you around, asking you questions, putting you in the ambulance, driving you around, it feels pretty scary and pretty real. And they all did a pretty good job,” said Lacey Teel, a senior at Century High School.
“I thought it was really cool,” said Burkleigh Yost, a junior at Century. “It’s like you never get to know what actually happens. You hear about things happening but you don’t know what’s going on, on the scene. So I thought it was really cool to see them in a situation.”
The fire department said it frequently does various emergency drills and it’s always great practice for them.