Area emergency agencies participate in full scale training exercise at airport
By J.J. Kindred | (email@example.com)
McGhee Tyson Airport served as the host for several emergency agencies in Blount County Saturday morning to conduct a full scale emergency training exercise.
The drill involved simulations of an aircraft emergency either on or near airport property. The Metropolitan Knoxville Airport Authority works with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) each year on the training drill that allows the airport to be able to get an operations certificate and handle emergency responses on airport grounds.
Airport officials said there were approximately 120 volunteers, simulating accident victims that served as passengers on a plane. They were given their own scenarios and were treated accordingly.
The exercise took between approximately 90 minutes and two hours to complete, officials said.
Among the participating organizations were the Blount County Rescue Squad, Rural/Metro Ambulance Service, the Blount County Sheriff’s Office, Knoxville Police and Fire Departments, Alcoa Fire Department, Blount County Fire Department, airport police, security and fire departments, and the Tennessee Emergency Management Association.
“We test a multitude of things in regards of being prepared for emergency responses,” said Becky Huckaby, vice president of public relations for the Metropolitan Knoxville Airport Authority.
“The scenario is kept secret, and it is not known ahead of time, so what we look at is calling out to mutual aid organizations — all the people that would respond to aircraft emergencies. The communication infrastructure is tested to make sure the calls go out to the appropriate avenues and to the proper people.
“The exercise determines how to best accommodate passengers and their medical needs and be treated accordingly,” Huckaby continued. “It was a wonderful opportunity to stay on top of our training, to be ready to give a response to every moment. We don’t want those (emergency situations) to happen, but we continue to be diligent to be ready to respond.”
Capt. Tom Clark of the Alcoa Fire Department described his department’s experience at the exercise.
“We had a support truck and an engine there, and our guys were assisting the wounded to the ambulances, search and rescue and some fire suppression,” Clark said. “We had a pumper there and a support team. This was a walking wounded (drill), so it wasn’t as much of a fire event as much as it was an area-wide rescue effort. The airport has to do these live drills, and they did it on an active runway they had to close for the drill.”
Laura Osgood, public information officer for the Blount County Rescue Squad, said their workers gained valuable experience with the training.
“The Blount County Rescue Squad’s job was to support Rural/Metro with medical triage and treatment,” Osgood said. “Rural/Metro was handling medical treatment, and the fire departments were on standby to do fire suppression in the event it was needed. The whole purpose was like any other drill, to make sure we are prepared in a multi-casualty incident. All agencies were working together in unison to get the job done.”