Disaster drill at airport hones first responder training

Disaster drill at airport hones first responder training
11 local agencies practiced emergency response drills at the Gulfport/Biloxi International Airport. (Photo Source: WLOX)

GULFPORT, MS (AP/WLOX) - It's a call no one wants to hear: "An inbound passenger jet, on fire, and headed to Gulfport/Biloxi International Airport."

On Tuesday, 11 local agencies took part in an exercise simulating that disastrous scenario.

On the ground simulation, injured and "dead" bodies were scattered among airplane wreckage. Fire trucks worked to extinguish flames from a burning plane.

First responders and EMT's tended to casualties and triage crash victims, everything from a 4-year-old boy to a 37-year-old pregnant woman.

Everyone, including the students posing as victims, took their roles very seriously. The exercise was put in place to see what works, what doesn't, and how people behave during a potential airport disaster.

"The airport works with our mutual aid partners, fire and police, and Air National Guard on the base. We work to make sure we're prepared for that event, if in fact it does happen," said Casey Lyons, airport operations director.

During the exercise, a lot does happen with numerous responders from multiple agencies. The goal is for all involved to be on the same page, whether it's a drill or a real-life emergency.

"You need to understand and need to know how the person next to you is going to operate in a real-life situation, and these drills are the perfect way to work that out," Lyons added.

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