To remain in compliance with Federal Aviation Regulations all Part 139 certificated airports must complete a full scale disaster exercise every three years. Today I was fortunate enough to be invited to Aberdeen South Dakota to function as an examiner of airport procedures. First I'd like to thank Dave O. (Airport Manager), for the opportunely it was all great fun, even though we were doing a very serious test of Aberdeen Regional Airports ability to respond to an aircraft accident.
Invited to the event were the local hospital, ambulance crews, Airport Rescue and Fire fighting crews, Press and Media, and other federal agencies.
The event had three parts to it:
1). A terrorist had hijacked an aircraft in Minneapolis
2). The terrorist is known to have a medical condition similar to the bubonic plague
3). Some people on the aircraft have developed symptoms similar to whatever condition the terrorist has.
The complete event started at 9:00am and lastest till 3:30pm. The timeline was:
0900 - The TSA has been notified of the exercise
1000 - Place news on the TV of a hijacking at the Minneapolis airport
1100 - Aircraft has only enough fuel for a 300 mile trip
1200 - Aircraft is very low on fuel
1300 - Aircraft crash lands at Aberdeen, SD
1400 - Scene is under security, terrorist captured, and aircraft passengers are sorted.
1500 - Ambulances arrive at local hospital
1600 - Full Scale event is terminated
1700 - Review of Procedures and Evaluators report on incident
The events where a little more blended then presented here, but give you a good example of how events played out over the time of the event.
I would have to say that despite some of the comments from the federal agents the event went rather smoothly with only minor problems; however, a full review of the policies and procedures of the event will be completed once the evaluators submit their reports to the Airport Manager. I noticed only a few areas where improvement could be made, but all parties did an excellent job and I know in a real incident I would feel safe and secure at the Aberdeen Regional Airport.