June 24th, 2024

Airport mock-crash highlights emergency response

By Ry Clarke - Lethbridge Herald Local Journalism Initiative Reporter on November 11, 2022.

Submitted photo Debris litters the runway in a simulated airplane crash as part of an emergency training exercise earlier this week at the Lethbridge Airport.

The Lethbridge Airport held a full-scale emergency exercise earlier this week, mandated every four years by Transport Canada, simulating an emergency impacting the airport.

The event united participants from Lethbridge Airport, Fire and Emergency Services, Police Services, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and the City of Lethbridge, as they came together working through a scenario.

The mock-crash scenario helped show how the airport handles a crisis and makes sure they have planned out how to proceed properly.

“We do a full-scale scenario where we bring everyone out, bring out the equipment, and try to use an actual airplane fuselage or something to simulate the aircraft itself,” said Cameron Prince, airport manager. “It was to simulate an aircraft crash and how we would respond to that.”

With yearly meetings to maintain safety, the staff at the airport work through all the possible scenarios that could occur.

“We do a tabletop exercise annually. That is where we get in the boardroom and have a scenario that we will go through all the different details on how we would respond to an incident. Making sure everyone knows who is talking to who. Then from there we will see our deficiencies and where we can improve,” said Prince.

Working in bitter cold weather conditions the experience was a learning opportunity for factors unpredicted.

“When an incident does happen, it isn’t always going to be bright and sunny with nice weather. It was kind of nice to actually test this on a day where the conditions aren’t perfect, we had to think about where we were going to put people to keep warm and other things like that,” said Prince. “It is critical for people that are using the airport, knowing that we are prepared in the event of something going wrong.”

Looking at the results, Prince says the event was effective with highlights for both improvement and success.

“There are always things to improve on. We have already started some of that, but we will have an official debrief later on,” said Prince. “Overall, it went really well. Everyone worked well and communicated together. Part of this is also building relationships, this is an opportunity to get together on a regular basis and make sure we all know who is talking to who.”

Maintaining safety and security, the events simulated a crash scenario and highlighted the response of all agencies working together to protect those in trouble.

“We are all about keeping everyone safe,” said Prince. “When it comes to plowing snow on the runways or practicing our emergency response, we are here to make sure everyone is safe and they are coming and going from a place that is safe and reliable.”

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