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Simulated aircraft crash response training deemed exceptional

By Deborah Wilber - | Sep 22, 2021

Deborah Wilber, Standard Examiner

Weber County emergency responders participate in a simulated aircraft crash training exercise at Ogden-Hinckley Airport on Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2021.

OGDEN — Ogden-Hinckley Airport was the site of a simulated plane crash with mass casualties Tuesday morning as part of a full-scale airport emergency plan exercise required by the Federal Aviation Administration every 36 months.

Personnel with the Ogden Police Department, Ogden Fire Department, Weber Fire District, Roy Fire Department, Riverdale Fire Department and North View Fire Department participated in the exercise, which featured a faux aircraft crash with an estimated 36 victims.

The exercise is used as a way to test the effectiveness of the airport as well as its mutual aid partners in the event of an aircraft disaster. The simulation ran from 9 to 10:30 am.

An after-action review of the exercise was completed by every participant in the training. Evaluators use the review in conjunction with personal observations to determine the success of the exercise.

Multiple agencies involved commented on the efficiency of the transport team. However, communication was said to be an issue among triage, transport and treatment. “There needs to be a better tracking system of patients and where they’re going,” said Capt. Brandon Storey with Roy City Fire & Rescue.

Deborah Wilber, Standard Examiner

A volunteer portraying an accident victim lays in the grass during in a simulated aircraft crash training exercise for Weber County emergency responders at Ogden-Hinckley Airport on Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2021.

Triage and incident command system training for emergency medical services were among areas identified for improvement. According to Storey, Roy Fire & Rescue had not practiced medical branch ICS training for about a year until brushing up before the exercise.

Evaluators agreed that triage seems to be a tricky part of every exercise. “A black tag is a black tag, and I have a hard time seeing them come back,” McKay Dee Hospital Medical Director Dr. Ben Sill said of changing medical triage tape if a patient — even a fake one — is determined to have sustained fatal injuries.

As first responders assessed the victims, some of whom were inflatable mannequins, they were to move those in most critical condition to an area for transport first. Live victims were given fake injuries varying in severity, and mannequins where outfitted with signs of their conditions.

The scene was chaotic for those assigned to triage and move victims from the crash site. Victims with minor and non-life-threatening injuries were moving about and calling out for help.

One critique from evaluators was that victims with seemingly minimal care appeared to receive more attention than those with possible life-threatening injuries unable to speak or move.

Deborah Wilber, Standard Examiner

Weber County emergency responders participate in a simulated aircraft crash training exercise at Ogden-Hinckley Airport on Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2021.

FAA inspector Kevin Yarnell told responders tasked with removing victims from the crash site to simulate carrying a real person.

“Mannequins are lightweight,” he said. “Carry one person rather than three bodies.”

Emergency Management Coordinator Theron Williams with the Ogden Fire Department said there are policies in place in the event of a disaster, but exercises like this help emergency responders find gaps in training to work on.

“I thought it went exceptionally well for a full-scale exercise,” Williams said. “We had 72 people in all, including volunteers, who participated in the exercise.”

The volunteers were applauded for their acting abilities as some observers were concerned they were actually hurt.

Deborah Wilber, Standard Examiner

Weber County emergency responders participate in a simulated aircraft crash training exercise at Ogden-Hinckley Airport on Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2021.

Volunteer victims of the simulated plane crash were employees from Dominion Energy and Chromalox Inc.

Weber County emergency responders participate in a simulated aircraft crash training exercise at Ogden-Hinckley Airport on Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2021.

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