REDDING, Calif. — Preparing for what they hope will never happen. First responders participated in a full-scale training exercise at Redding Regional Airport on Wednesday, March 29. The Federal Aviation Administration requires it every three years.
The call came in a little after 10 a.m.: a 76-passenger plane crashed at Redding Regional Airport. Firefighters from Station 7 were first on the scene, trying to get the flames under control, with an Aircraft Rescue and Fire Fighting Vehicle, a.k.a. ARFF.
"There's a lot of specialized equipment, a lot of heavy-duty jaws of life, a lot of saws that we can get through fuselages of an aircraft. And, it's primary focus is putting out the fire and starting rescue efforts on the passengers that may become victims," said Redding Fire Battalion Chief Mike Sawyer. "It [fire engine] carries three different types of firefighting extinguishing agents: it carries water, it carries foam and dry chemical."
With the flames out, firefighters worked to cut in to the fuselage trying to rescue people trapped inside. Volunteers, many of them firefighting and medical students, played the part of passengers with injuries from slight to fatal. There was also a triage in the field to determine the extent of their injuries.
Jim Wadleigh, the airport's manager, says with more, larger commercial aircraft arriving and departing from Redding Regional, all the different agencies working together seamlessly is critical.
"Our aircraft are getting bigger at this airport and so we have responded, correspondedly, to the size of the aircraft. This is the largest one, for us," Manager Jim Wadleigh explained. "It's an exciting time to test our responses and get together. And it creates a bond between the agencies and I really enjoy seeing that. And it also, with the volunteers, it kind of inspires them to what we do and what every agency does. So there's going to be a little bit of that as well, today."
There was an "after action review" following the exercise. Jim says it went well. EMS did a good job handling triage, fire response and coordination was great. And it was good exposure for all newer staff.
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