First responders work together in mass casualty simulation at Huntsville airport

First responders work together in mass casualty simulation at Huntsville airport

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - First responders got a chance to practice how to handle a simulated airplane crash at Huntsville International Wednesday morning.

“To be able to get multiple agencies together and operate as a single team is very challenging," said Huntsville Fire & Rescue Division Chief Wesley Ogle. "Exercises like this allow us the opportunity to find out where the problems are before we have a real world event, so it really helps us to prepare and be ready to go.”

65 volunteer victims took part in the drill.

The exercise involved a metal bunker lit on fire, to simulate an airplane fuselage. A school bus acted as the cabin of the crashed plane with people still inside and a field just off the run way had dozens of volunteer victims on the ground.

For some of the volunteers the simulation almost seemed real.

“When they put the bunker on fire and all the ambulance and fire trucks came out here and then everyone was yelling and screaming it really started to sink in,” said volunteer victim Tina Demaiorivus.

Overall, the simulation was a success.

“Things happened really fast," Ogle said. "We were able to transport multiple patients to local hospitals and get immediate treatment.”

This isn’t just practice for a crashing plane, Ogle said it’s for any mass casualty event.

“April 27, 2011 tornadoes. Still a mass casualty type incidents with multiple patients and multiple locations," he said. "That would be a very comparable response.”

Ogle said the important thing here is that all of the different agencies get to practice working together, that is the framework for how to handle any disaster.

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