Saturday, April 21, 2012

Airplane Crash Drill Goes Smoothly

Numerous federal, state and local agencies, including Long Beach police, fire and the department of public works, took part in an emergency training exercise at Long Beach Airport Friday.

The exercise was a simulation of two aircrafts colliding, an AC-130 and a smaller twin engine plane, and was conducted to test the response capabilities of emergency service personnel in a mutli-agency setting. 

The drill is an incredible training vehicle for all the agencies involved, said aid Kerry Gerot, public information officer with the city of Long Beach. During the exercise, which took place on the north side of the tarmac, the airport continued its normal daily operations during the two hour drill that started at 11 a.m.

Gerot said maintaining a sense of realism was very important. Several observers, such as personnel from the United States Marshall Service, Transportation Security Administration and various other agencies, viewed the mass casualty drill while taking notes.

More than 130 citizen volunteers, who played the victims of the mock crash, also participated.

Stacey Tudor, 23, a nursing student at American University, played one of the victims aboard the AC-130 and wore makeup on her back and arms that resembled burn wounds.

“I was in the plane [the AC-130] and my role was to scream for help,” she said.

Long Beach police officer Gregory Woodruff said the exercise is important because it gives the agencies involved a skeleton toward mutual agency cooperation should a similar event occur.

Both the Long Beach police and fire had a mock command post set up and were given high praise by organizers during concluding evaluations.

Long Beach police Sgt. Diana Hohman of the Emergency Operations Division was given a round of applause by the many participants, including members of the Federal Bureau of Investigations, Transportation Security Authority, the Los Angeles County Coroner's Office and numerous others.

Student journalists also played along during a mock media news conference held by the city of Long Beach and fire departments, getting a chance to test their reporting prowess.

Steven Carcano, 23, a photojournalism student from Long Beach, said while smiling that the event is going to be great for stock photos. It was good learning experience overall, he said.
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