Airport drill helps emergency personnel train for disaster

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- Emergency personnel practiced responding to a staged aircraft emergency in a disaster drill held at the Chippewa Valley Regional Airport on August 13.

First responders practiced putting out a simulated fuel fire and tending to victims played by volunteers.

Airport personnel participate in a training annually to practice putting out fires on an aircraft simulator but the disaster drill is only held every three years.

Airport Director Charity Zich says since there haven’t been many aircraft emergencies at the airport so this training offers the opportunity for crews to practice real life response.

“The simulator is meant to give the actual simulation of an aircraft and gives the look of an actual aircraft,” Zich says. “The fire is coming from the aircraft and there is smoke in the cabin.”

Zich says in the case of an emergency at the airport, many outside agencies would need to be called in to help. Many departments were present at the training including the airport’s own fire rescue, Chippewa Fire, Altoona Fire, Eau Claire Police and Eau Claire Fire.

Surveyors were present during the drill to critique every part of the crews’ response from how they handled putting out the fires to performing mock medical treatment on the volunteer victims.

Eau Claire Emergency Management Coordinator Tyler Esh will now put together a report from the training and consider ways to improve their standard operating procedure for responding to aircraft emergencies.

“I think if something were to happen out here we would have a much more successful outcome than if we didn’t do trainings like this,” Esh says.

In addition to the airport drill, Emergency Management trains personnel to handle many other kinds of disasters including mass shootings.