Image: Bishop Airport live drills

First responders from across Genesee County came together to participate in a live disaster exercise.

It’s not every day that local first responders get to work on an airplane engulfed in flames. But once every three years the departments come together and practice.

“It’s crucial to being prepared if an actual emergency happens. We hope that it never does happen,” said Autumn Perry-Macclaren, with Flint Bishop International Airport.

The mock emergency happened at the Golf Tee Hanger, located off Torrey Road.

First responders were told the bare minimum, then put to the test.

“There are always things that will happen that you don’t anticipate or you weren’t counting on happening and those are the biggest challenges,” Burton Assistant Fire Chief Kirk Wilkinson said.

One of the biggest challenges of the exercise was a mock Delta plane crash. The first responders had to contain more than 2,000 gallons of jet fuel and treat 64 fake passengers.

Many local high school students played victims as emergency crews worked on them in a mock triage area. It was all-hands-on-deck as EMTs treated the pretend injuries. They even transported them to local hospitals.

With so many departments working on the drill, communication was key.

“We’re always trying to improve on communication. It helps the flow of things and keeps people working well together,” Wilkinson said.

Despite the stress of the exercise, the departments left with a better understanding of “what if?”

“Anytime you give the EMS, firefighters or police officers some training that they don’t normally get all the time, they look forward to that and they enjoy participating in stuff like that,” Wilkinson said.

Copyright 2019 WNEM (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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