Press-Republican

Local News

July 29, 2013

Simulated plane crash prepares responders

PLATTSBURGH — It was only simulated, but bodies on the ground made the scenario of a plane crash seem real at Plattsburgh International Airport.

The training session kicked off at 8 a.m. Saturday with a 911 call that summoned numerous fire departments and other agencies.

The dead and injured lay amid wreckage and debris, with two Clinton County Public Transit buses representing the aircraft, which had split in two.

Two other vehicles were victims of the fake crash, too.

REQUIRED EXERCISE

“We are exercising the airport’s emergency plan,” said Christopher Kreig, airport manager at Plattsburgh International Airport.

Plattsburgh International is required to do so once every 36 months. 

While Saturday’s exercise simulated an aircraft mishap, he said, “we have to be able to respond to any natural or man-made disaster.

Among the possibilities are civil disturbances, or severe weather, such as a hurricane.

“We have several agencies that support our plan,” Kreig said.

SITUATION UNKNOWN

The 911 call brought all of those rushing to the airport as if the crash were real.

The airport’s fire department was assisted by responders from Plattsburgh City Fire, South Plattsburgh, Peru, District 3, Cumberland Head and Morrisonville departments.

Although the firefighters knew it was a simulation, they didn’t know what the situation was until they arrived.

“It’s important for us to be able to practice this,” Kreig said. “It happens, and we want to be prepared for it.”

‘THROWN’ FROM PLANE

What they found were 70 crash victims represented by volunteers, with 12 fatalities.

Some were on the wrecked plane, with others thrown from it, as would most likely happen in a real situation, said Justin Burl of Homeland Security, who was the exercise facilitator.

Some passengers of the cars on the crash site had to be extricated.

“Every victim was assigned a card to label their injuries,” Burl said. “The goal was to maintain as close to reality as possible without the risks.”

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