Emergency responders train for aviation casualties; STGnews Gallery

A simulated emergency involving a helicopter and small passenger jet hitting each other at the St. George Municipal Airport involved multiple first responder agencies, St. George, Utah, March 27, 2013 | Photo by Dave Amodt, St. George News

ST. GEORGE – Multiple emergency agencies participated in a simulated mass-casualty training exercise at the St. George Municipal Airport Wednesday morning.

Airport manager Richard Stehmeier said the airport holds tri-annual emergency response trainings in keeping with regulations set up by the Federal Aviation Administration. The training encompasses multiple agencies and can be based on one of many different scenarios responders at the airport could face.

He said that the airport and first responders already had some firsthand experience dealing with emergencies, citing the April 2012 plane crash that killed four individuals and the incident involving a wanted murder suspect attempting to steal a plane.

“We had a couple of incidents last year,” Stehmeier said.

Still, the training “gives us an opportunity to see what works and what doesn’t, (and what) we can make better,” he said.

The scenario airport staff and local agencies ran through Wednesday was a helicopter hitting a small passenger jet.

The scene itself included the shell of a passenger jet, a helicopter from the Above View flight school, individuals acting as victims, and patches of fire set around the area to simulate flames triggered by the crash.

The training started around 10:12 a.m. when the St. George Communications Center sent a call out to emergency agencies reporting the incident. The airport’s on-hand fire suppression team, AR-21, arrived at the scene by 10:16 a.m., and began to put out the fires and tend to victims.

St. George Police also arrived and helped set up an incident command while two ambulances from Dixie Ambulance and a fire engine from the St. George Fire Department also responded to the simulated crash. A Life Flight helicopter also took part in the exercise. Members of the Washington County Community Emergency Response Team were also on hand.

Stehmeier said Mercy Air out of Mesquite, Nev., was also to take part in the exercise but had to respond to a real emergency. In order to deal with the loss of an additional resource, he said simulated calls for assistance out of Washington and Hurricane were made.

“We try to involve anyone who would be involved in something like this,” he said.

Victims attached to the simulated event included two fatalities, one serious burn victim, a hazmat victim (covered in spilled fuel), and six general victims with differing levels of injury.

“These trainings are crucial when the real thing happens,” said Norm Nielsen, of Dixie Ambulance, who participated in the training.

Emergencies themselves are rare occurrences, Stehmeier said, but added first responders and the airport must be prepared for the unforeseen.

“You have to practice – all of the time,” he said.

Stehmeier said next year the airport is looking at simulating an airliner crash.

Click on photo to enlarge it, then use your left-right arrow keys to cycle through the gallery. 

Email: mkessler@stgnews.com

Twitter: @MoriKessler

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2013, all rights reserved.

A simulated emergency involving a helicopter and small passenger jet hitting each other at the St. George Municipal Airport involved multiple first responder agencies, St. George, Utah, March 27, 2013 | Photo by Dave Amodt, St. George News
A simulated emergency involving a helicopter and small passenger jet hitting each other at the St. George Municipal Airport involved multiple first responder agencies, St. George, Utah, March 27, 2013 | Photo by Dave Amodt, St. George News

 

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