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Simulated crash at Pocatello Regional Airport helps first responders prepare for the worst

Pocatello Regional Airport is making sure they’re prepared for the worst.

Once every three years, the airport conducts a simulated plane crash to practice what to do in an emergency, as required by the Federal Aviation Administration.

“Today’s drill was a full scale drill in order to test our emergency preparedness and response to a simulated emergency of an aircraft down,” said Travis Smith, the assistant chief of operations at the Pocatello Fire Department.

Idaho State University students acted as wounded passengers so first responders could practice the triage process.

“We wanted to be able to identify any immediate, life-threatening patients,” Smith said.

The students, who are in the aircraft maintenance program, wore tags that determined whether they were dead, seriously injured or just shaken up.

“Oh, the students were awesome. They were great actors. We really appreciate their involvement out here. It’s always tough to get good actors to come in and help us participate, but they were worth every penny we spent on them and more,” Smith said.

Eight agencies took part in the drill, including Power County Sheriff and Ambulance, Portneuf Air Rescue and Pocatello’s fire and police departments.

“Ninety percent of our time is spent preparing for something like this, and this is one of those preparations,” Smith said.

“There was a lot of effort put into this drill and I think it went off quite well,” said Alan Evans, the airport manager. “I think there’re some things we can be proud of and I think there’re some areas that we’ll definitely work on and be better in the next drill.”

The Federal Aviation Administration requires commercial airports to hold a live exercise like this one, once every three years.

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