On Saturday, the Illinois Air National Guard and a number of local emergency response agencies held a full scale drill at the Peoria International Airport to test their response plans. The disaster drill is designed to provide responders an opportunity to refine their practices for responding to a plane crash. Approximately 70 local youths participated as crash victims wearing prosthetics and makeup to replicate the types of injuries they would likely suffer in a real airline accident.
The drill involved more than 150 rescue and other emergency personnel and required four months of coordinated planning to put together. The Federal Aviation Administration requires these types of drills once every three years. While everyone hopes that this type of response will never be necessary, it is important that responders are familiar with the unique and dangerous conditions that can exist in the aftermath of an aircraft disaster.
For large scale accidents like the crash of a major airline flight, local state and federal responders often must quickly pool their resources to provide a coordinated response. In other disasters problems as basic as different departments radios not communicating with each other had not been addressed until the tragedy was in motion. Issues like this can be planned but it is often not until the agencies are actually in motion that new unknown issues crop up.
According to the chief of Fire and Emergency services for the Illinois Air National Guard, Saturday's drill was successful. The organizations were able to work together seamlessly to account for all of the volunteer victims and determine the levels of their injuries in under an hour.
Source: Journal Star "Emergency response teams hold full-scale drill at Peoria airport" Jackson Adams, April 9, 2011