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First responders put skills to the test during emergency response drill

Numerous first responders took part in the test that included a scenario involving a plane crash involving more than 80 people.
Published: May. 12, 2022 at 8:37 AM EDT|Updated: May. 12, 2022 at 2:06 PM EDT
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HENRICO, Va. (WWBT) - Hundreds of first responders and volunteers across the Richmond area met at Richmond International Airport on Thursday morning for an emergency response drill.

A first responder test was held May 12 at Richmond International Airport.
A first responder test was held May 12 at Richmond International Airport.(WWBT)

The training exercise is part of a triennial test mandated by the Federal Aviation Administration to test the airport’s emergency plan.

Richmond International Airport takes part in their FAA triennial test.
Richmond International Airport takes part in their FAA triennial test.(Source;NBC12 | NBC12)

“Every three years, all certificated airports with the FAA are required to do a full-scale triennial exercise that exercises the fire, police, airport operations and we have to have an MCI, a mass casualty incident,” said John Fitzgerald, fire chief at the Richmond International Airport Fire Rescue Department.

Roughly 300 people took part in this training exercise, which Fitzgerald said has been in the works since last November.

This year’s test was a simulation of a plane crash.

“The scenario had the plane taking off on runway 20, failed to take off, crashed through a perimeter fence into the rubber tracks and caught fire,” Fitzgerald said.

From the first call to the scene of the crash, Fitzgerald said crews were tested on their response and coordination.

“They will come in, put that fire out,” Fitzgerald said.

From there, firefighters had to enter the aircraft and search for victims while tending to patients spread out across the field.

“There will be roughly 83 people that are hurt that they have to do triage on,” Fitzgerald said.

Those who took part in this simulation had makeup on to make the fake cuts and bruises look realistic. This made the experience realistic for firefighters as they evaluated patients, treated their wounds on scene, and coordinated their transport to the hospital.

Crews take part in a plane crash simulation as part of a test of Richmond International...
Crews take part in a plane crash simulation as part of a test of Richmond International Airport's emergency plan.(Source;NBC12 | NBC12)

“It exercises all of our different functions within the first responder partners,” Fitzgerald said. “Not only just for the airport first responders, but as well as Henrico, the City of Richmond, Hanover and Chesterfield and Richmond Ambulance Authority.”

The Richmond Ambulance Authority takes part in a plane crash simulation.
The Richmond Ambulance Authority takes part in a plane crash simulation.(Source;NBC12 | NBC12)

A real-time practice environment evaluating emergency response and coordination with one goal.

“If there’s a deficiency, we learn what that deficiency is so we can improve upon that for the next drill or if the real event happens, we’re prepared for it,” Fitzgerald said.

A firefighter works to treat patients, who are taking part in a plane crash simulation at...
A firefighter works to treat patients, who are taking part in a plane crash simulation at Richmond International Airport.(Source;NBC12 | NBC12)

The training exercise will continue on Friday as staff from hospitals conduct their own drills with the same patients from this plane crash simulation.

Click here to learn more about the drill.

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