Plane crash, just in case

By Geoff Lee

June 21, 2016 8:40 AM

Mock disaster actors Mike Keeler, Kandace Keeler and Sydell Jensen took part in the city's test of its emergency response plan at the Lloydminster Municipal Airport Thursday, followed by a barbecue at the airport warehouse. (Inset), RCMP Const. Justin Knappe barred entry to the airport as part of his role in the exercise.

Mock disaster meant to test prepardness

The City of Lloydminster brought its A-team of first responders to a mock plane crash at the Lloydminster Airport to test emergency preparedness.
Core emergency responders from the Lloydminster Fire Department, the RCMP detachment, WPD Ambulance and the Lloydminster Rescue Squad rushed to the scene Thursday morning as if it were real.
In fact, RCMP Sgt. Sarah Knelsen, in charge of police security, said several people called the detachment to ask what was going.
“We did make sure on our RCMP radios, a half a hour before the mock exercise, for members to update the public that there was a mock exercise that was going to be taking place at the airport just so panic didn’t take part in the City of Lloydminster,” she said.
“We still did have some observers that came out and wanted to know what was happening and take a peak at what was going on.”
What was going on was a realistic emergency response to a crash scene at the end of the runway with dead body dummies.
There were also live volunteers like Sydell Jensen playing the role of injured passengers.
“I had a fractured pelvis and a fractured leg and I was having to do a lot of screaming and asking for my shoes,” said Jensen at a follow-up barbecue at an airport warehouse.
“I was lying on the ground in the plane with a lot of wreckage and dead bodies around me.”
Jensen is one of several members of the Church of Christ Latter Day Saints who volunteered to take part.
“It was a very good learning experience—working with the first responders, that was amazing,” she said.
To keep the disaster true to life, this year’s exercise was an unscripted accident scene according to Anne Danielson, the city’s emergency management coordinator.
“No one was scripted, all the decisions were left up to the responders in the field and the responders with the city to make on the fly, and they did an excellent job,” she said.
Each year after a test, participants fill out evaluation forms of how well it went to be followed by a report.
“There is always things you can learn with an exercise and that’s why we run them, but overall, I think it went very well,” said Danielson.
The Lloydminster Hospital also had its Emergency Operations Centre set up as did the city, with its EOC with additional participation from the Vermilion Fire & Rescue Department as well.
“There were numerous other organizations involved in our emergency response plans,” said Danielson.
Lloydminster fire chief, Jordan Newton,  dispatched a heavy rescue truck as well as a pumper, command vehicles, peace officer vehicles and ambulances.
“It was a mock airplane crash, so there is everything from potential fire from flammable fuels as well as mass patients,” said Newton.
He said it’s really to test all emergency operations in the city including the hospital’s response to treating a lot of casualties.
“We had some great actors today as well as some creative costumes on dummies that were potential patients.”
Newton said the exercise was lot of fun and he noted every year they get a little bit better with their emergency operations in the event of a real plane crash.
“Should it happen, God forbid, we will always be ready,” he said.
Sgt. Knelsen said these types of exercises are a great learning tool and a great opportunity for all agencies involved to work together as a team and get the job done.
“Overall, I think it went over well,” she said of the exercise which included steering away rubberneckers.
“We secured the scene as well to ensure that nobody that wasn’t supposed to be on the scene wasn’t there.”

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