ST. GEORGE, Utah (ABC4) – First responders from all over Southern Utah, Nevada, and Arizona gathered at St. George Regional Airport Thursday morning to train on how to deal with a mass casualty incident.
There was a plane crash simulation, but it looked pretty close to the real thing. Actors pretending to be injured, with fake blood, as officials went through their emergency rescue routine. First responders had to check the severity of ‘injuries’ on the actors and sent ‘patients’ to the hospital via LifeFlight.
“We have many different fire departments, we have county agencies, we have the city, we have Mercy Air and Classic Air from Nevada and Arizona, they all participate in this and it’s to get the coordination going,” says David Cordero, the spokesperson for the City of St. George.
It’s required by the FAA but officials say it’s important to have a safety plan in place, prepare for the worst possible scenario, and have proper communication with surrounding agencies.
“Our airliners take up to 65 passengers, if it’s a full load, 65 passengers, or 65 injured people, would completely overload the hospital in this area,” says Rich Stehmeier, the airport manager.
St. George Regional Airport officials say this is the busiest year on record, with over 300,000 passengers. About 100 to 120 planes fly in and out of the airport daily.
“We are the first responders here at the airport, we assess it and say hey this is an MCI- a mass causality incident- and then we will actually send that down to dispatch and then they can actually bring everybody in,” says Stehmeier.
This training comes out of local agencies’ pockets, but officials say it’s worth it to ensure the safety of travelers.