A massive fire sending clouds of black smoke high into the sky was all part of a very real simulation at Regina Airport.
A large emergency exercise played out just off the main runway Wednesday morning. More than 150 people were involved, from Regina fire, police, city officials, NAV Canada, local airlines, Saskatchewan EMS and Public Safety Canada.
“They’ve come together today to practice what we hope will never happen, which is a full-scale, massive, aircraft crash at YQR,” said Jame Bogusz, president and CEO of Regina Airport Authority.
The realistic scenario, one year in the making, tested how teams — on the front lines and behind the scenes — would handle a plane crash just after takeoff at the airport.
“Today’s really about insurance. It’s about practising plans and making those plans even more effective so in the event of a major event, we are ready,” Bogusz said.
WATCH: A massive, full-scale, emergency response test at Regina Airport Wednesday morning. The scenario is a plane crash right after takeoff near the runway. More than 150 people were involved in the test including fire crews, paramedics, police and actors portraying passengers.
Posted by 980 CJME on Wednesday, September 19, 2018
Dozens of actors were brought in to portray passengers, and given cards with specific instructions. To start the exercise, a mock-up fuselage, surrounded by a dike, was equipped with more than 3,000 litres of regular unleaded fuel and set on fire.
Airport firefighters came in to stop the blaze before city crews joined to act through the response. Paramedics assessed fake victims, as a city bus arrived to transport them away from the scene.
“There’s so many things that happen and there’s so many parameters around it that if we train together, we’re all on the same page when a disaster happens,” said airport Fire Chief Kevin Hembroff.
“It’s very significant to have this type of training … fighting a hydrocarbon fire is a lot different than working with a wood-burning fire.”
While the mock disaster exercise is mandated and regulated by Transport Canada every four years, the airport authority stressed plans are always being updated.
“We do the big one every four years, but we routinely practice with our partners, we routinely review our emergency procedures to make sure they’re the best they can be for the travelling public,” Bogusz said.
The Regina Airport Authority recently adopted an incident-command centre strategy for emergency response to be compatible with other municipalities and airports.