If you noticed hundreds of firefighters, law enforcement officers and medical personnel at Eppley Airfield Saturday morning, don’t worry, it was a just a drill.
Around 320 people participated in a full-scale mass casualty disaster exercise. The goal is to give emergency responders a chance to practice their skills and learn how to work better if a disaster ever did take place at the airport.
“It gets names and faces out," said Airport Fire Chief Mark Lawler. "Instead of being behind desks we get out in the field and we practice.”
According to officials, a drill of this magnitude only takes place every three years. For practice purposes, two school buses posed as an airplane fuselage. The idea was that an airplane skidded off the runway and crashed. Around 70 “victims” were inside, some of them injured. Some of those victims were even transported to the hospital so the hospital could practice their emergency response.
“First of all, it shows each agency where they are at in their level of training and their ability to respond to an emergency situation," said Airport Police Officer Bob Rockwell. "Collectively, it demonstrates how we are able to work together and communicate.”
The airport also participates in other exercises on a yearly basis.