The Santa Barbara Airport held a full-scale emergency drill Thursday morning, where dozens of emergency responders practiced how they would respond to a large plane crash.
The drill, required by the Federal Aviation Administration to take place every 36 months, tests the airport’s emergency plan for how airport personnel and mutual aid partners would respond to an emergency or mass-casualty incident, such as a plane crash.
The mock emergency drill simulated a large commercial airplane crash and resulting fire.
View a photo gallery from the drill by clicking the arrow on the right side of the picture above.
More than 80 volunteers played the roles of crash victims or distraught family and friends, and participating agencies included the Santa Barbara Airport and fire and police departments; the City of Santa Barbara Office of Emergency Services; the Santa Barbara County fire and sheriff departments, Coroner’s Bureau and Office of Emergency Services; the Carpinteria, Montecito, and Summerland fire departments; Santa Barbara County Search and Rescue; the Federal Aviation Administration; the Transportation Security Administration; the California Highway Patrol; American Medical Response; United Airlines; MTD; and more.
“This three-year drill mandated by the FAA allows all the cooperating agencies to work together and further strengthen working relationships,” said Kevin Corbett, a public information officer for the Santa Barbara City Fire Department.
An MTD bus parked on a closed taxiway represented the crashed plane, as simulated smoke made from water vapor billowed around it. Volunteer victims were dressed up with fake blood and injuries made from makeup and were also given sheets of paper with information on their character’s role and condition.
First responders used the sheets of paper to determine how and where to care for each victim, setting up triage areas to indicate the seriousness of a victim’s injuries.
For the drill, tarps and triage areas were set out for victims with a red tag, yellow tag or green tag.
Victims with a red tag were those who required immediate transport to a hospital and needed to be treated right away, while those with a yellow tag needed immediate treatment but were stable and could wait until those with more critical injuries were treated.
Victims with a green tag were referred to as “walking wounded,” with minor injuries to be treated after more serious injuries were treated.
“It’s been a very lovely experience seeing the guys out here in action and feeling confident that — if something were to happen — they’re going to do their job, and it really instilled confidence in what our emergency services are capable of,” said volunteer Sherrie Lane, who played the role of a 10-year-old looking for her mother after the crash. “They have to have someone to practice on, and I don’t mind the experience and getting to interact as a community to make sure that we’re prepared if something really does happen.”